Home » Specialties » Medical Lab Techician

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

The Basics

  • 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: $54,180

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.

Salaries by State

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites 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: $54,180

Bottom 10%: $31,450

Top 10%: $83,700

Projected job growth: 7.3%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $43,920 $25,600 $70,020
Alaska $63,670 $34,250 $111,530
Arizona $46,240 $29,190 $80,400
Arkansas $43,020 $26,640 $68,780
California $63,120 $36,050 $104,210
Colorado $57,570 $34,790 $86,830
Connecticut $70,140 $40,350 $99,190
Delaware $60,320 $33,130 $80,450
District of Columbia $63,340 $43,820 $97,690
Florida $53,030 $28,500 $79,920
Georgia $48,760 $28,920 $77,040
Hawaii $60,050 $40,570 $85,710
Idaho $42,980 $28,400 $79,280
Illinois $51,790 $28,980 $80,460
Indiana $46,610 $28,740 $72,860
Iowa $48,600 $31,260 $70,400
Kansas $47,570 $28,630 $76,470
Kentucky $54,820 $33,620 $78,540
Louisiana $49,290 $27,400 $76,570
Maine $56,400 $34,630 $78,160
Maryland $55,140 $33,910 $85,200
Massachusetts $56,220 $35,000 $93,540
Michigan $53,130 $29,630 $78,620
Minnesota $56,080 $39,050 $81,240
Mississippi $43,110 $26,600 $71,050
Missouri $46,900 $28,470 $77,110
Montana $57,650 $29,240 $83,600
Nebraska $53,540 $32,570 $78,860
Nevada $61,430 $34,860 $92,900
New Hampshire $66,590 $37,370 $86,440
New Jersey $64,930 $40,170 $90,040
New Mexico $47,980 $30,780 $76,800
New York $69,380 $38,720 $100,810
North Carolina $50,730 $33,170 $76,720
North Dakota $51,160 $33,220 $76,360
Ohio $53,960 $30,970 $78,380
Oklahoma $46,410 $28,590 $73,610
Oregon $67,840 $40,340 $98,860
Pennsylvania $53,980 $33,920 $77,920
Rhode Island $66,910 $44,940 $98,090
South Carolina $48,720 $28,960 $76,830
South Dakota $48,090 $28,570 $73,440
Tennessee $54,270 $30,160 $80,990
Texas $51,630 $29,650 $78,660
Utah $44,030 $28,150 $78,590
Vermont $57,390 $34,230 $82,970
Virginia $54,230 $32,540 $80,840
Washington $61,310 $36,970 $94,470
West Virginia $49,260 $28,810 $75,350
Wisconsin $55,770 $35,250 $78,560
Wyoming $55,140 $27,900 $83,630

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2029. 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)