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What Is a Medical Lab Technician? Job Description & Career Growth

Learn what you’ll do in a medical lab technician job.

female lab tech examines specimen vial
Home » Specialties » Medical Lab Techician

Medical Lab Technician At a Glance

  • What you’ll do: You’ll work under the supervision of a medical technologist or physician to perform tests that help physicians diagnose and treat diseases. Medical lab technicians prepare samples for analysis, use equipment to locate microorganisms, monitor tests and procedures, analyze the chemical content of fluids, match blood for transfusions, and test for drug levels in the blood.
  • Where you’ll work: Hospitals, clinics, private laboratories, public health organizations, research and development departments of pharmaceutical companies
  • Degree you’ll need: Associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate
  • Median annual salary: $57,800

Job Environment

Medical technologists act as supervisors for medical technicians, who perform many of the same duties in a physician’s office or lab. On the job, you’ll collect and analyze body fluids, tissue and other substances to determine normal or abnormal findings. You’ll operate sophisticated equipment and instruments to identify the results.

Both technicians and technologists perform tests and procedures that physicians or other healthcare personnel order. However, technologists perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians do. In these roles, you’ll work side by side in doctor’s offices, clinics, diagnostic labs and research environments.

Medical laboratory technicians often wear eye shields, gloves and other gear to prevent the spread of infection and to protect themselves from solutions and reagents used in testing.

Median Annual Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median annual salary for lab technicians is $57,800.

They also cite medical and clinical laboratory technician median annual salaries by state. See what you could earn where you choose to work.

Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

National data

Median Salary: $57,800

Projected job growth: 6.6%

10th Percentile: $30,280

25th Percentile: $37,990

75th Percentile: $74,530

90th Percentile: $79,340

Projected job growth: 6.6%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $60,770 $36,650 $98,490
Alabama $46,880 $28,700 $64,920
Arkansas $46,420 $29,010 $68,430
Arizona $47,020 $29,470 $78,040
California $61,650 $37,740 $101,220
Colorado $60,670 $37,150 $79,870
Connecticut $74,980 $37,320 $98,990
District of Columbia $61,650 $47,130 $98,490
Delaware $61,960 $37,150 $77,460
Florida $48,450 $29,120 $77,110
Georgia $47,820 $29,480 $77,350
Hawaii $60,850 $37,990 $79,340
Iowa $48,450 $35,670 $75,000
Idaho $44,390 $23,330 $76,810
Illinois $57,280 $33,140 $78,340
Indiana $47,300 $29,460 $74,660
Kansas $48,000 $29,500 $76,600
Kentucky $59,110 $29,760 $78,460
Louisiana $49,470 $29,180 $76,620
Massachusetts $59,640 $37,210 $96,890
Maryland $59,500 $31,990 $80,020
Maine $59,540 $37,620 $75,840
Michigan $50,190 $29,670 $77,600
Minnesota $59,320 $37,290 $78,640
Missouri $47,040 $29,120 $75,000
Mississippi $45,790 $28,810 $73,580
Montana $60,050 $29,860 $78,940
North Carolina $48,000 $35,030 $76,920
North Dakota $58,860 $37,130 $77,520
Nebraska $48,450 $29,870 $76,290
New Hampshire $74,640 $38,810 $94,420
New Jersey $61,830 $37,640 $94,880
New Mexico $46,980 $29,210 $75,410
Nevada $59,380 $29,700 $94,410
New York $76,190 $45,000 $100,270
Ohio $53,870 $36,580 $78,430
Oklahoma $46,980 $29,360 $76,010
Oregon $74,510 $42,310 $99,770
Pennsylvania $58,550 $35,260 $77,320
Rhode Island $75,000 $47,210 $94,870
South Carolina $47,860 $29,570 $74,780
South Dakota $47,380 $29,470 $76,480
Tennessee $49,520 $29,860 $78,940
Texas $48,450 $29,790 $77,210
Utah $47,020 $29,820 $78,940
Virginia $50,280 $30,970 $78,940
Vermont $59,500 $37,150 $79,340
Washington $61,000 $37,200 $98,210
Wisconsin $59,110 $36,170 $76,600
West Virginia $48,700 $29,470 $76,220
Wyoming $48,660 $29,480 $78,320

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Career Advancement

If you’d like to advance and gain more responsibility and autonomy in the field, you can move into a medical technologist position. There, you can specialize in a variety of areas such as:

  • Blood bank technology (immunohematology)
  • Clinical chemistry technology
  • Cytotechnologist
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular biology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Histotechnology

Certification of medical laboratory technologists and technicians is required for licensure in some states and by some individual employers. Although certification isn’t required to enter the occupation in all cases, earning it indicates your dedication to employers, and your commitment to high standards and continued improvement.

Credentialing Agencies Include:


The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and American Medical Technologists offer national testing for the title of Certified Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)