Are you a tech-savvy medical student looking to make a career in the healthcare profession? A career that provides workplace flexibility and career growth while, at the same time, doesn’t necessarily expose you to the stressful emergencies of the ER or requires hands-on patient care. If so, then perhaps you should consider the job of a Lab Technician.
What is a Lab Technician?
A lab technician is responsible for performing several technical and diagnostic tests in scientific laboratories, offices, and even industrial plants. They usually work independently. They are in charge of analyzing various bodily fluids and tissues to help professionals come to a proper diagnosis and treat a medical condition effectively. This may include studying tissue and fluid samples to detect any abnormalities and then preparing reports of their findings.
Depending upon which field you choose to work in, a lab technician can find themselves in any of the following settings:
Duties and Responsibilities
A lab technician is responsible for carrying out the following responsibilities:
Perform investigations and gather data
Record data or the samples collected.
Perform mechanical, technical, and diagnostic testing
Not only this, but lab technicians must also maintain the accuracy and efficiency of the experiments conducted by them.
Maintain lab equipment and tools. This also involves disinfecting them from time to time and keeping the workspace as clean as possible.
Maintain their database as well as an updated record of their research findings.
Adjust, calibrate, and ensure that all the laboratory equipment and instruments are functioning properly.
Assist with other functions of the laboratory
Supervise their staff
Identify biological samples which are used for examination or stored for future use.
Carry out existing and potential risk assessments.
Place orders and stock relevant laboratory supplies. Along with this, they must also make sure to label all the chemicals correctly and store them appropriately.
Choose and develop equipment and instruments for laboratory
Develop several reagents like buffers and gels ( if and when demanded)
Follow state-mandated guidelines and regulations
“A degree in science is not all you need to become a technician — you will also need a logical mind and good communication skills”
The job of a lab technician requires a diverse set of skills and qualities. These include:
Being a lab technician, one should be able to review a vast array of data and other variables. He must also come up with a reasonable and systematic way to analyze the data to obtain satisfactory results.
Part of the job of a lab technician is to investigate and collect samples and data. This can sometimes make lab technicians venture into fieldwork as well. A good lab technician has the energy to stay on his feet as long as it takes just to get the desired samples. He must have a keen eye for detail and also be wary of making any mistakes that might end up manipulating or tampering with the samples.
Strong analytical skills
Gathering crucial data is not enough. Part of the job of a lab technician involves analyzing a large amount of data and information all day long. Hence he must be meticulous and precise when doing so and should be able to find connections or any anomalies when studying the samples collected.
Working as a lab technician means working with dozens of records, an endless supply of chemicals and equipment. As a result, a lab technician should always stay organized with properly documented files, adequately labeled and stocked chemicals, and clean and up-to-date equipment.
Well developed communication skills
If you are working as a lab technician, chances are that you will be working with co-workers and other healthcare professionals. Thus possessing strong verbal communication skills is of utmost importance. At the same time, part of the job of a lab technician involves writing reports and documenting their findings in a manner that others can understand. Thus one should also have a firm grasp on their written skills as well
The art of managing time is crucial to anyone working within the medical profession. The job of a lab technician is no different. Here you will be working individually as well as with your co-workers and sometimes be engaged in time-sensitive tests. Hence, being prompt, precise, and fast; while monitoring each step of the process, as well as delivering results promptly, is of utmost importance.
Apart from this, other skills required for the job of a lab technician include:
Persistence- The tenacity to not give up so quickly and persevere until you get the desired results
To become a lab technician, one needs a minimum of a high school diploma followed by an associate or a bachelor’s degree in laboratory sciences or any other related majors. However, the college or the program you choose must be accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Opting to get a Master’s degree in the same discipline is also advisable since it plays a huge role in determining one’s salary.
As far as training is concerned, it largely depends on the field you choose to go in. Normally aspiring lab technicians are taught about laboratory procedures, equipment handling, running diagnostics, and preparing reports. However, instead of having a specialized training program, this is mostly done on the job.
Additionally, to get the job of a lab technician, one must also look into getting them certified. Some of the commonly sought after certifications include:
Based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the future of the job of a lab technician is quite promising. It is expected to rise more than other related professions. Moreover, being a lab technician allows you the chance to step up towards other related careers, especially if you are a medical lab technician (MLT).
On the other hand, as far as the salary is concerned, it tends to differ based on which field you choose to enter, with each offering its own set of perks and benefits. However, as far as a medical lab technician (MLT) is concerned, at the moment, they earn approximately $54,180 to $69,650 annually.
The job of a lab technician is quite noble, irrespective of the field you choose to enter. Since with every research, you are doing a good deed by creating awareness and helping your society.