As with most jobs in the clinical and medical fields, the need for lab technicians is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that occupation is going to experience an 13% growth from 2016-2026. Although there are multiple paths one can take on their way to becoming a lab technician, the process is straightforward and can be broken down into three simple steps.
Have a High School Diploma
To pursue a career as a lab technician, one must first obtain a high school diploma or G.E.D. It is possible to prepare for the exam and obtain a G.E.D. in as little as three months. Courses in this curriculum will cover the fundamental science, math, and language concepts necessary to continue to more advanced studies.
Obtain an Associate’s Degree
The next step in the process is enrolling in a lab technician associate’s degree program, which is typically a two-year program. Many colleges, vocational schools, and the military offer certification programs. The coursework is a combination of classroom and laboratory work and covers everything from microbiology to techniques utilized in the professional field. Many times, these programs will also include a clinical internship as part of the curriculum. Organizations such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) may be useful resources when it comes to searching for accredited programs.
Get Certified and/or Licensed
After obtaining an associate’s degree, it is necessary to take an exam and receive a certification or license from a nationally-recognized organization, such as American Medical Technologists. The certification or license needed to work in the field can differ from state to state. It is important to check the certification and license requirements with the department of health in the state. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) also has licensing information pertaining to each state. Even if obtaining a license is not necessary for employment in a certain state, it is something that employers may look for when considering potential employees.
While working as a lab technician, it is also possible to obtain new certifications. This allows the technician to work in more specialized fields as well as increases their employment opportunities. As technology continues to advance, the need for lab technicians around the world will continue to escalate. With an ever-increasing aging population in the United States and more people needing medical services, there has never been a better opportunity to enter the field as a lab technician.