Clinical Technician Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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Clinical technicians make the median annual wage of about $38,000. Is it worth the training requirements? Read on for more salary information and job descriptions to see if becoming a clinical technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Clinical Technician

Clinical technicians (or medical technicians) use laboratory equipment to perform diagnostic procedures in a wide variety of environments. You may be able to choose from a variety of specializations, and you may find it rewarding to help people through the clinical diagnosing process. Though the pay is relatively low, job growth is projected to be above average from 2012-2022. Here are some pros and cons to help you consider whether a career as a clinical technician is right for you.

Pros of Being a Clinical Technician
Only an associate's degree is needed*
Need for these workers due to their diagnosing skills*
Some specializations available*
Ability to help people by diagnosing their illnesses or diseases*

Cons of Being a Clinical Technician
May have to stand for long periods of time*
May not have as much independence or responsibility as other clinical lab workers*
May work irregular hours (evenings, overtime and weekends)*
May encounter infectious diseases*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Medical technicians collect samples from patients, so they must interact well with both patients and doctors. Most clinical technicians use laboratory equipment to perform diagnostic procedures in hospitals or other settings. They analyze biological samples and calibrate laboratory equipment. In addition, clinical technicians maintain accurate records by using computer database software. Some clinical technicians produce these records by documenting data and discussing the results with physicians or other clinical staff.

Most technicians work under the supervision of physicians and clinical technologists (these workers aren't to be confused with technicians). Clinical technicians in larger labs or hospitals can specialize as phlebotomists or histotechnicians.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

In May 2014, the BLS stated, the median annual wage of these workers was about $38,000. During that same time period, the middle half of clinical technicians made annual wages ranging from about $31,000-$48,000. The highest-paid ten percent of workers made about $60,000 or more. The BLS also expected that the employment of clinical technicians would grow 30% for 2012-2022.

Training Requirements

The general expectation is that clinical technicians hold associate's degrees in the sciences. Community colleges and vocational schools have programs that are specifically geared toward training technicians. In addition to this formal training, technicians should have an understanding of laboratory equipment and good communication skills.

Depending on the workplace, clinical technicians might have to be licensed or certified by the state. You can receive a general or specialized certification, and you usually have to continue your education to maintain this status.

Important Skills

If you want to succeed as a clinical technician, you need to be interested in medicine, science and math. You should also like to analyze test samples, which can involve a lot of meticulous observation and technical abilities. Here are some other qualities you should have:

  • Attention to detail
  • Enjoy working in labs
  • Sympathetic to people who may be in pain
  • Able to work on a team

Job Postings from Real Employers

In job postings, employers explain specific duties and requirements for the job, such as experience in hematology or computer software. While educational requirements varied, most employers expected applicants know basic lab techniques and lab safety procedures. Here are some job postings from CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com from April 2012:

  • A healthcare services company in Tennessee needed a clinical support technician who could collect specimens and also perform clerical tasks. It required an applicant who had a high school diploma or the equivalent, training in Basic Life Support and prior experiences in phlebotomy.
  • A medical center in North Dakota requested a medical technician with an associate's degree in clinical laboratory technology. The applicant would be able to perform lab tests in hematology, blood banks, urinalysis, bacteriology and serology. The applicant also needed to be willing to work during nights, weekends and holidays.
  • A medical facility located in California required a technician with an associate's degree and a medical laboratory technician license from the state. Also, the applicant needed to know how to perform clerical duties and use computer data programs. Experience in phlebotomy was also required.
  • A hospital in New York asked for a medical technician who had an associate's degree and a medical technician license from the state. The applicants would collect specimens and perform routine analysis. The employer preferred an applicant with an American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification.

How Can I Stand Out?

Since this job also requires clinical technicians to record accurate data, you may want to take courses for computer programs such as Microsoft Excel or Word. While these are not required, you can also benefit from taking courses including speech and composition to improve your interpersonal skills. These courses can help you communicate more effectively with a team of technologists, technicians and physicians.

Certification

Even if your state doesn't require you to be certified as a clinical technician, you can still benefit from the certification process. Certification shows employers that you have the technical know-how that is recognized throughout the country. You can be certified after fulfilling educational requirements, and you also have to pass examinations.

The ASCP has several categories for clinical technicians. The certifications are for phlebotomy technicians, histotechnicians, medical laboratory technicians and donor phlebotomy technicians. Specific eligibility requirements can be found on the ASCP's website (www.ascp.org).

You can also receive training in Basic Life Support, which is provided by the American Heart Association. You can learn how to provide CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) through classroom or online courses.

Alternative Careers

Clinical Technologist

While these professionals have a very similar job title to a clinical technician, they usually are given more responsibility in the work place. They are different from clinical technicians, since they must have the minimum education requirement of a science-related bachelor's degree.

These workers may have more specializations available to them as well. Some specialties include molecular biology and immunology. According to the BLS, these workers have the expected employment growth of 11% for 2010-2020. These workers tend to make better earnings than technicians. The BLS stated that the median annual wage for technologists was about $57,000 in May 2011.

Biological Technician

These technicians have similar duties to clinical technicians as well. However, they focus more on research, and they may work with scientists in order to discover new products or drugs. These workers also need to have a bachelor's degree in a field such as biology. Biological technicians usually work regular hours, and they have opportunities for advancement.

According to the BLS, biological technicians made the median annual salary of about $39,000 as of May 2011. The BLS projected that these workers' employment may grow 14% for 2010-2020. Keep in mind that there is keen competition for jobs.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. The George Washington University

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      • Master of Science in Regulatory Science
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Featured Schools

The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Clinical Microbiology
  • MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
  • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Regulatory Science

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Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Health Science
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin

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American National University

  • Medical Assisting - Associate
  • Phlebotomy - Diploma

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Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

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Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

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College of Health Care Professions

  • Medical Assistant-Certificate

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