If you are thinking about entering the healthcare field, consider a career as a laboratory technician or laboratory technologist. There are many openings today for lab techs, and even more jobs are expected to be needed in the future.
A lab technician typically performs tests that help physicians diagnose and treat their patients. That might mean preparing samples of a tumor to determine if it is cancerous or benign. It could mean checking a patient’s blood to see if an antibiotic is effective in fighting a bacterial infection. Or it might involve testing a blood sample for cholesterol, lipids and other important compounds.
It usually takes two years of college to become a lab technician. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires you to have an associate’s degree in order to perform diagnostic tests on human tissue. After gaining experience as a lab tech, a natural career step is earning a bachelor’s degree and become a laboratory technologist, who can do more complex tests and procedures.
Currently, there are about 320,000 laboratory technicians and technologists in the United States, according to American Medical Technologists, an industry association. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of lab tech jobs will rise by 25,000 between 2008 and 2018. However, many senior technologists and technicians will also be retiring during the decade, creating openings across the country. In addition, many laboratory companies, healthcare systems and physician groups rely on staffing services like All Medical Personnel for experienced techs who can step in and contribute their knowledge and expertise in a laboratory setting.