According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), clinical laboratories around the United States are facing a critical shortage of personnel. As laboratories’ limits have been stretched by the constant influx of COVID-19 PCR tests, it’s become clear that more, highly-trained medical laboratory technologists are needed in the field.
Additionally, with a steadily aging population of Baby Boomers, the demand for medical lab technologists will continue to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment in this field will grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the national average for other careers. In other words, there will be many opportunities for prospective medical laboratory technologists in the future. But, when choosing a future career path there’s more to consider than whether or not there will be job openings. There’s a salary to think about, as well. So, what is the typical medical lab technologist salary? Read on to learn what you can expect as a future medical lab professional.
Medical Laboratory Technologist Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average pay for a laboratory technologist is $54,180 per year. However, when discussing the salary of a medical technologist, it’s important to keep in mind that pay can depend on a variety of factors, including the type of employer, location, and one’s level of experience.
As with many other professions, the salary you earn as a medical technologist can depend on your place of employment. In 2020, the highest paying employers for medical technologists were outpatient care facilities. Medical technologists who worked in an outpatient environment earned, on average, $57,640 per year. The second highest paying employers were general medical and surgical hospitals. The average medical technologist salary earned in a general hospital in 2020 was $56,630 annually.
Where you live can also impact your average pay as a medical lab technologist. As they say, “location, location, location.” According to the BLS, the top paying states for medical technologists include:
- New York – $72,500 annually
- Rhode Island – $70,580 annually
- Connecticut – $70,220 annually
The Northeast is a great place to become a medical laboratory technologist, with the high salary potential as well as the access to world-renowned hospitals, medical centers, and research facilities.
It stands to reason that the more experienced you are, the more skilled you become. This level of skill and experience corresponds to a higher salary. The highest-paid medical technologists can earn upwards of $83,000 per year.
Medical Laboratory Technologist vs. Medical Laboratory Science Technicians: What’s the Difference in Salary?
If you’re considering a career as a medical laboratory professional, you may have read about two different career paths: medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory technicians. Before enrolling in a course of study, it’s important to know that there are key differences between these two jobs.
Medical laboratory technologists (sometimes called medical laboratory scientists) use complex scientific testing methods to analyze biological specimens. The results of this work can be used to identify and later treat a variety of illnesses. Medical laboratory technologists receive a high level of training that prepares them to perform precise, manual tests as well as tests that utilize intricate technologies.
Medical laboratory technicians work under the direction and management of medical lab technologists. They are responsible for collecting biological samples from patients. They may also work to analyze these samples. However, many of the tests that laboratory technicians are qualified to perform can be automated. They may also be asked to set up, calibrate, clean, and maintain laboratory equipment.
There’s a clear difference in the level of responsibility expected of laboratory technologists and technicians. As such, there is also a disparity between their levels of pay. According to Indeed, laboratory technologists can earn up to $54 per hour whereas laboratory technicians may earn $21.13 per hour.
How to Become a Medical Lab Technologist
If a medical lab technologist career is of interest, it’s important that you’re prepared. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a laboratory technologist.
Unlike medical lab technicians, medical laboratory technologists are required to complete a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science or Medical Technology. Students in this type of program complete a rigorous course load of general education credits and science foundation courses, in addition to medical and laboratory courses. These career preparation courses include, but aren’t limited to:
- Clinical Chemistry
- Medical Bacteriology
Additionally, students are required to complete 28 weeks of supervised clinical work in a hospital laboratory. In order to graduate, students must also pass a comprehensive examination covering all aspects of clinical laboratory science.
Certification or licensure is not a requirement nationwide, however many states require medical laboratory technologists to be licensed. When applying for positions in medical technology, holding certification may provide you with an advantage over your competitors. Generally, future medical technologists should earn their Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) certification by completing the board certification process proctored by the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
Medical technologists are increasingly in demand for their expertise and skills. With an aging population and a global pandemic to address, doctors and nurses rely heavily on the work of medical technologists to help them treat their patients. Valued for their training, medical technologists can also expect to earn a good salary.
Now is the perfect time to enroll in a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science.