WHAT DO LAB TECHNICIANS DO?
Lab technicians are skilled workers that work with complex systems or perform highly technical mechanical or diagnostic tests in medical or scientific laboratories. Depending on the field, technicians may work independently or under the direction of a professional.
Lab technicians might collect samples, study and perform tests on body fluids, teeth, chemical compounds, biological specimens, or other fields of science. Lab techs use various types of machinery, lab equipment and complex computer programs to perform their tests. Lab techs also record their data or findings for study and scrutiny by doctors and physicians. Labs need to be sterile environments, so lab techs must maintain a clean environment.
Examples of lab technicians include dental lab technicians, medical and clinical lab technicians, ophthalmic lab technicians and dental lab technicians.
HOW MUCH DO LAB TECHNICIANS MAKE?
It depends on what type of lab tech you are. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2010, the median income for a dental lab tech was $16.90/hour, or $35,140 a year. For an ophthalmic lab tech, it was $13.45/hour, or $27,970 a year. Medical and clinical lab techs made a median income of $22.44/hour, or $46,680 annually.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS?
Ophthalmic and dental lab techs can typically get started with only a high school diploma, and will learn most of their skills on the job. For Medical and clinical lab techs, you typically need an associate's degree in life science or medical technology, but a bachelor's degree will increase your chances at getting hired. People looking to get started should have an aptitude for science and will want to take classes in biology, chemistry and math. Some states require licensure, and certification is available.
JOB SKILLS AND REQUIREMENTS
- Compassion: Empathy is necessary when working closely with patients who might be in pain or under emotional duress.
- Attention to Detail: Performing tests requires exact measurements and a good eye for detail, or the results could be false.
- Dexterity: Lab techs work with their hands and will need dexterity to work with small vials, test tubes, and delicate lab equipment.
- Stamina: Lab technicians work long days on their feet, sometimes hunched over a workstation for long periods of time.
- Technical Skill: Lab techs need to understand complex lab machinery and computer programs used to conduct tests.
CAREER PATHS FOR LAB TECHNICIANS
THE FUTURE OF LAB TECHNICIANS
Laboratory technician jobs are expected to grow at an average rate between 2010 and 2020.