Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians held about 329,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians were as follows:
|General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private||45%|
|Medical and diagnostic laboratories||22|
|Offices of physicians||10|
|Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||5|
|Outpatient care centers||3|
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work with infectious specimens and other biohazardous substances.
Technologists and technicians may need to stand for long periods.
Injuries and Illnesses
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians may incur injury or illness on the job. For example, they may be subject to repetitive motion injuries because they do the same tasks repeatedly or to illness from working with biohazardous material. To reduce the risk of infection, they follow laboratory safety protocol and wear protective masks, gloves, and goggles.
Most clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work full time. Because they may work in medical facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, they may have shifts that include nights, weekends, or holidays.
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Technicians sometimes qualify for jobs with an associate’s degree. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have certification.
High school students who are interested in becoming a clinical laboratory technologist or technician should take classes in chemistry, biology, and math.
Clinical laboratory technologists typically earn a bachelor's degree in medical technology or a related life sciences field, such as biology or chemistry.
Bachelor’s degree programs in medical laboratory technology, also known as a medical laboratory scientist degree, include courses in chemistry, biology, and hematology. Accredited programs typically include instruction in laboratory skills, such as safety procedures and lab management, as well as hands-on training in a hospital or other clinical setting. Some laboratory science programs can be completed in 2 years or less and require prior college coursework or a bachelor’s degree.
Clinical laboratory technicians typically complete an associate's degree program in clinical laboratory science. The Armed Forces and vocational or technical schools also may offer postsecondary certificate programs for medical laboratory technicians. Accredited technician programs provide skills in basic laboratory testing and, like medical laboratory scientist degree programs, may offer clinical experience.
Certain types of technologists, such as cytotechnologists, must attend specialized education programs.
For a list of accredited bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs, visit organizations such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed or registered. Requirements vary by state and specialty. For specific requirements, contact your state department of health or state board of occupational licensing.
In some states, licensure requires certification. Although certification is not always required to enter the occupation, employers may prefer to hire certified technologists and technicians.
Individuals may earn certification as a medical laboratory scientist or medical laboratory technician. Completion of an accredited education program is typically required to sit for a certification exam. A number of organizations offer certification, including the American Association of Bioanalysts, American Medical Technologists, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
Specialty certification is available in areas such as histology and clinical chemistry for those who meet requirements for additional education and work experience.
Some clinical laboratory technicians advance to technologist positions after gaining experience and additional education.
Medical laboratory technologists typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a medical laboratory technologist, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Medical laboratory technologists should also possess the following specific qualities:
Ability to use technology. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must understand how to operate complex machinery.
Detail oriented. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must follow exact instructions from physicians in order to perform correct tests or procedures.
Dexterity. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians require skill while working with their hands. They work closely with needles and precise laboratory instruments and must be able to handle these tools effectively.
Physical stamina. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians may work on their feet for long periods while collecting samples. They may need to lift or turn disabled patients to collect samples for testing.
The median annual wage for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $57,800 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,280, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,340.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Outpatient care centers||$60,110|
|General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private||59,930|
|Medical and diagnostic laboratories||48,660|
|Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||48,290|
|Offices of physicians||47,890|
Most clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work full time. Because technologists and technicians may work in facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, they may have shifts that include nights, weekends, or holidays.
Employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 25,600 openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
An increase in the population of older adults is expected to lead to a greater need for diagnosing medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, through laboratory procedures. Prenatal testing for various types of genetic conditions also is increasingly common. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians will be in demand to use and maintain the equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment.
For more information about clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, visit
The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
American Society of Cytopathology
For a list of accredited and approved educational programs for medical laboratory personnel, visit
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
For information on certification, visit
American Association of Bioanalysts
American Medical Technologists
American Society for Clinical Pathology