When a doctor orders a series of tests on a patient, it’s the job of medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians to prepare and perform those tests to help detect diseases or abnormalities. These professionals analyze body fluids, tissue, and cells. Using powerful medical equipment, they look for bacteria, parasites, and abnormal cells. They also analyze cholesterol levels, and cross-match blood samples for transfusions, documenting their results in reports or patient medical records. Since they regularly handle samples and medical instruments contaminated by infectious microbes, they wear protective goggles, gloves, and masks to minimize the risk of contagion. In larger labs and hospitals, technologists and technicians tend to specialize in areas like blood work or microbiology. Most work full-time. In general, technologists supervise the work of technicians. Technicians need an associate’s degree in clinical laboratory science, and technologists need a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or life sciences. Licensure is required in some states, and certification is often preferred by employers. The work can be stressful, especially when they must perform complex tests accurately and in a limited time. However, they gain satisfaction from knowing they’ve provided the vital information doctors need to save lives… or cure diseases.
What they do:
Stain, mount, and study cells to detect evidence of cancer, hormonal abnormalities, and other pathological conditions following established standards and practices.
On the job, you would:
Examine cell samples to detect abnormalities in the color, shape, or size of cellular components and patterns.
Document specimens by verifying patients' and specimens' information.
Submit slides with abnormal cell structures to pathologists for further examination.
Math and Science
medicine and dentistry
Arts and Humanities
reading work related information
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
listen and understand what people say
read and understand what is written
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
put together small parts with your fingers
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
notice when problems happen
see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Prognosis Innovation Healthcare ChartAccess
Expert system software
bachelor's degree or certificate after college usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.