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So you wanna be a Medical Laboratory Technologist

by on August 19, 2015 | Top Stories

The job of a medical laboratory technologist

As a medical laboratory technologist, you examine blood and other body fluids to search for clues in the diagnosis of various diseases. These tests help determine the presence, extent, or absence of disease. It also helps doctors monitor the effectiveness of a particular treatment.

Some of the functions you may carry out include microscopic examination and analysis of blood, body fluids, tissues and cells; identification of bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms; cross match blood for transfusion; and perform differential cell counts. You will also need to follow standardised operating procedures, and carry out quality assurance measures to ensure the accuracy of test results.

So you wanna be a Medical Laboratory Technologist

Is this job for you?

You might enjoy the job of a medical laboratory technologist if you like solving problems and enjoy challenges and puzzles. You should also consider this job if you are good at attention to detail, organising information and critical thinking.

The interest code for this career is IRC (Investigative, Realistic and Conventional):

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work styles

As a medical laboratory technologist, you must be comfortable with technology and be able to understand how to operate complex machinery. It is important that you are able to follow exact instructions from physicians in order to perform correct tests or procedures.

Manual dexterity is essential as medical laboratory technologists need to be skilful with their hands – working with needles and precise laboratory instruments effectively is part of the job. It is common for medical laboratory technologists to work on their feet for long periods while collecting samples.

Work values

Medical laboratory technologists value a workplace that has a supportive management who stands behind its employees; they like being able to work and make decisions on their own. They also value achievement as they are results oriented.

Work environment

Most medical laboratory technologists work full time and some may be required to work shifts and at weekends. Depending on the specimens and materials they deal with, they need to wear protective gear for their safety and protection. This may include lab coats, masks, gloves and goggles.

Their job requires using sophisticated equipment and instruments which can perform a number of tests simultaneously, and following procedures at all times. Some technologists work only in laboratories while others may have direct contact with patients when collecting specimen samples.

Places of employment

Medical laboratory technologists work at government and private hospitals. They can also gain employment at medical and diagnostic laboratories, offices of private practice, and colleges or universities.

Job entry requirement

An entry-level job for technologists usually requires a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or life sciences. A diploma qualification is accepted for positions of medical laboratory technician. With experience and on-the-job training, some technologists may move on to a specialisation such as immunology, histotechnology, cytotechnology or clinical chemistry.

Education and training qualifications:

  1. Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology
  2. Bachelor in Medical Laboratory Technology


Take a peek at what a Medical Laboratory Technologist does in this video.

This video tells us more about being a medical laboratory technologist and how it’s different from being a medical laboratory technician.


Mayo Clinic, Medical Laboratory Sciences,
Occupational Outlook Handbook,
My Next Move

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