Home page

Medical Laboratory Technicians

At a Glance

  • Run tests using body fluid, cell, or tissue samples
  • May work nights, weekends, or holidays
  • Have an associate degree
  • May need a license
  • Often wear safety gear, such as gloves

Career summary

Medical laboratory technicians conduct tests to help detect, diagnose, and treat diseases.

#No alternate titles CJ

Medical laboratory technicians and technologists have very similar jobs. Generally, medical laboratory technicians do most of the routine laboratory testing and are often supervised by medical laboratory technologists.

Physicians order laboratory tests to help them figure out what is wrong with patients. Lab technicians run tests using samples of body fluids, cells, or tissues. They study blood samples to count the number of cells and determine the blood type.

Technicians may prepare specimens and use machines that automatically analyze samples. They may follow detailed instructions to do tests by hand. They also prepare standard solutions for use in the lab. This involves measuring and mixing the correct amount of various chemicals.

They examine the samples to see if they are abnormal or diseased. They look for organisms, such as bacteria, that would indicate an infection. They often prepare vaccines and serums and test them to make sure they are active and not sterile. For other tests, technicians grow cell cultures.

After tests are run, technicians record, evaluate, and send results to physicians or medical researchers. They also talk to pathologists if abnormal cells are found.

In addition to running tests, technicians set up, clean, and maintain laboratory equipment.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to medical laboratory technicians.

Common work activities

Medical laboratory technicians perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, medical laboratory technicians:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Medical laboratory technicians frequently:

It is important for medical laboratory technicians to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for medical laboratory technicians to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Medical laboratory technicians need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a medical laboratory technician, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Medical laboratory technicians usually have an associate degree. Two-year colleges and hospitals offer training programs. In these programs, you learn to perform routine medical testing procedures. You may also learn to draw blood from patients.

On-the-job training

Many employers provide some hands-on training when you are first hired. This usually lasts up to six months.

A few medical laboratory technicians learn their skills on the job. However, you usually need an associate degree to get certified.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be medical laboratory technicians. Training lasts 12 to 36 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements. Medical laboratory technicians need a strong background in the laboratory sciences. Be sure to take as many Chemistry and Biology courses as you can.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers usually require medical laboratory technicians to have at least an associate degree. Some employers accept completed certificate training from hospitals, vocational schools, or the military.

Employers look for applicants who can pay attention to detail and follow procedures.

Some employers will only hire certified medical laboratory technicians. The national certification exam is given by the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Registry (ASCP). The American Medical Technologists (AMT) also offers an exam. These organizations are listed in the Other Resources section of this description.

#Above info still correct, Checked info, still correct 3/19/13 & 3/3/15, 4/9/19 cj.


Laboratory workers who can work with others in a team environment will be the most successful. A strong background in math, science communication, and computer science is important.

Costs to workers

Medical laboratory technicians who become certified generally pay an application and exam fee. Costs vary. Some workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians (SOC 29-2010)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $15.97 $19.67 $26.18 $34.62 $41.64
Monthly $2,768 $3,409 $4,537 $6,000 $7,216
Yearly $33,220 $40,910 $54,450 $72,010 $86,610
    Bellingham Hourly $16.73 $22.47 $30.19 $37.56 $44.63
Monthly $2,899 $3,894 $5,232 $6,509 $7,734
Yearly $34,782 $46,737 $62,797 $78,126 $92,840
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $16.17 $17.97 $20.76 $23.64 $27.92
Monthly $2,802 $3,114 $3,598 $4,097 $4,839
Yearly $33,620 $37,370 $43,170 $49,189 $58,061
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $14.20 $20.65 $25.59 $34.54 $42.41
Monthly $2,461 $3,579 $4,435 $5,986 $7,350
Yearly $29,540 $42,968 $53,224 $71,854 $88,195
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $14.42 $18.12 $23.57 $31.50 $38.38
Monthly $2,499 $3,140 $4,085 $5,459 $6,651
Yearly $29,984 $37,688 $49,022 $65,522 $79,828
    Longview Hourly $16.63 $24.46 $32.59 $41.74 $47.07
Monthly $2,882 $4,239 $5,648 $7,234 $8,157
Yearly $34,604 $50,878 $67,774 $86,838 $97,895
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $18.52 $21.41 $24.79 $32.45 $37.81
Monthly $3,210 $3,710 $4,296 $5,624 $6,552
Yearly $38,512 $44,516 $51,561 $67,483 $78,637
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $16.36 $20.21 $27.33 $36.07 $43.72
Monthly $2,835 $3,502 $4,736 $6,251 $7,577
Yearly $34,019 $42,018 $56,845 $75,023 $90,931
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $15.03 $18.37 $24.54 $31.75 $38.98
Monthly $2,605 $3,184 $4,253 $5,502 $6,755
Yearly $31,266 $38,227 $51,035 $66,053 $81,082
    Vancouver Hourly $18.01 $22.98 $30.50 $39.13 $46.62
Monthly $3,121 $3,982 $5,286 $6,781 $8,079
Yearly $37,458 $47,814 $63,451 $81,398 $96,966
    Walla Walla Hourly $21.64 $27.02 $32.75 $37.10 $39.88
Monthly $3,750 $4,683 $5,676 $6,429 $6,911
Yearly $45,007 $56,208 $68,114 $77,188 $82,945
    Wenatchee Hourly $18.58 $21.73 $27.33 $35.85 $41.81
Monthly $3,220 $3,766 $4,736 $6,213 $7,246
Yearly $38,634 $45,201 $56,842 $74,566 $86,961
    Yakima Hourly $16.77 $20.01 $28.85 $35.65 $40.86
Monthly $2,906 $3,468 $5,000 $6,178 $7,081
Yearly $34,881 $41,633 $60,008 $74,153 $84,997
United States Hourly $14.38 $18.42 $25.16 $32.17 $38.62
Monthly $2,492 $3,192 $4,360 $5,575 $6,693
Yearly $29,910 $38,310 $52,330 $66,920 $80,330

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The worker's level of experience, education, and responsibility also affect wages.

Medical laboratory technicians who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians (SOC 29-2010)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 7,148 16.9% 16.1% 711
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 179 22.3% 13.4% 20
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 189 15.3% 8.6% 18
    Benton and Franklin Counties 325 19.4% 15.0% 34
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 163 18.4% 11.9% 16
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 282 18.1% 15.2% 28
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 345 21.4% 14.1% 38
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 394 14.2% 14.6% 36
    King County 3,361 19.5% 19.6% 355
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 153 9.8% 13.8% 13
    Pierce County 653 18.5% 15.2% 68
    Snohomish County 333 19.8% 12.4% 35
    Spokane County 703 9.8% 13.9% 58
United States 331,700 10.6% 5.2% 25,500

National employment

About one-third of medical laboratory technicians work in hospitals.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will be strong. The number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that are performed each year is growing rapidly. However, technological advances will limit job growth. Some tests can be run by machines or less-skilled workers.

In addition to the jobs created by growth, other job openings will occur as current workers retire or leave this occupation.

Other resources

American Association for Clinical Chemistry (external link)
900 Seventh Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20001
American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (external link)
1861 International Drive, Suite 200
McLean, VA 22102
American Society for Clinical Pathology (external link)
33 West Monroe Street, Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60603
American Society for Cytotechnology (external link)
1500 Sunday Dr
Suite 102
Raleigh, NC 27607
American Society of Cytopathology (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational clusters