What does a medical laboratory technologist do? 


The USA bureau of labour and statistics projects that the employment opportunities for medical laboratory technologists will rise by 7% from 2019- 2029. This also indicates that the demand for these health professionals will increase. 

Who is a medical laboratory technologist?

A medical laboratory technologist is a medical professional trained to carry out laboratory analysis of body tissues and fluids collected from a patient.

After analysis, they prepare reports that are sent to physicians to help in the diagnosis of medical conditions or treatment of patients. They are an integral part of a health team and without their services, doctors can’t accurately make a medical diagnosis.

Roles and responsibilities of a medical laboratory technologist

Medical laboratory technology is a broad field that covers microbiology, immunology, clinical chemistry and hematology. During practice, theychoose one of these sub-specialties to render their services.

They work in a laboratory and wear personal protective equipment such as laboratory coats, face masks, boots and gloves to prevent them from contracting infections from infectious body samples.

Here are some of their core duties in the hospital or research laboratory:

  • Set up and operate laboratory equipment.
  • Prepare and standardize chemical reagents used for laboratory analysis.
  • Collect patient samples.
  • Analyse patient samples and create reports sent to doctors. 
  • Carry out tests to monitor the patient’s response to treatment.
  • Perform quality control checks to ensure laboratory results are accurate.
  • Supervise a medical laboratory technician. 

Medical laboratory technologists work shifts including weekends and holidays because their services are needed 24/7 in a health facility.

How to become a medical laboratory technologist

Medical laboratory technologists require a college degree and practicing license to be employed in a health facility. They have a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory technology from an accredited college and after graduation, they work as interns in a hospital training program to acquire practical skills.

There are license exams medical technologists are expected to pass before they practice in the laboratory.

Skills and qualifications 

Medical technologists require not only laboratory skills but also soft skills that ensure they discharge their duties effectively. When a medical technologist fails to deliver quality and accurate results to doctors, it affects patient health outcomes, client satisfaction with services and the hospital at large. Therefore, medical technologists require the following set of skills:

  • Communication skills: They interact with patients while collecting samples so they must listen attentively to patients and be empathetic.
  • Critical thinking: They are expected to be natural critical thinkers because of the numerous scientific analysis they do. 
  • Attentiveness: Their ability to pay attention to little details is necessary because small tiny alterations or errors in the laboratory can affect the quality of laboratory results.
  • Computer skills: The widespread use of electronic health records in hospitals makes this a mandatory skill for any intending or practicing medical laboratory technologist.
  • Problem-solving: Lab technologists face lots of problems in the laboratory and must possess this capacity to handle them. For instance, laboratory equipment or reagents may become faulty at critical times or when they are handling an uncooperative patient. Without this skill, a medical technologist will not perform excellently in a health facility.

Medical laboratory technologist salary

A medical laboratory technologist salary is $54,000 on average per annum but this may differ from country to country and factors such as experience level and type of employer(private laboratory vs government hospital) 

Career path 

Medical laboratory technologists may choose to advance their career by earning a master’s or doctorate degree in a specific sub-specialty. Also, some can choose an academic career where they lecture in medical laboratory technologist programs.

A few others who continue to work in a health facility can assume managerial roles in their department.


Medical laboratory technologists are important health professionals in a health team. Their services are critical to the quality of healthcare delivered in a health facility and by a doctor.

Individuals interested in medical laboratory technology need a bachelor’s degree and practicing license. With the huge demand for laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technologists will have more job opportunities and the potential to earn well in the future.

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Ramya Sriram manages digital content and communications at Kolabtree (kolabtree.com), the world's largest freelancing platform for scientists. She has over a decade of experience in publishing, advertising and digital content creation.

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