A Day in the Life of a Medical Laboratory Technician

HealthcareJanuary 17, 2020

The career outlook for medical laboratory technicians (MLT) is bright as our aging population drives an increased need for skilled individuals who can diagnose medical conditions using laboratory procedures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is projected to grow 11 percent over the next 10 years, which makes it a very attractive career path for the right individual. 

But what does an average day look like for a person in this position?
If you have ever had a doctor order a medical test, such as one to check cholesterol or glucose levels, it was most likely completed by an MLT. This is the person whose job is to perform the tests and procedures that have been requested by doctors to diagnose a condition or disease. 

When MLTs arrive at work, they will have a variety of tasks to perform, depending on what is needed that day.  Their responsibilities can also vary based on their specialty. Often, MLTs are tasked with analyzing body fluids, such as blood, urine or cell tissue to check for abnormal findings. To do so, they use sophisticated laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and cell counters. MLTs may also use automated or computerized equipment and instruments that can perform more than one test at the same time.

Once a test is complete, MLTs log the data and enter the results into a patient’s medical record and generate charts, graphs, or summaries. The MLT may also discuss the results of the laboratory tests and procedures with the physician(s) if they want immediate findings or have additional questions. 

MLTs often work under tight deadlines—some of the tests they are analyzing are extremely time sensitive. They may work at a hospital, physician’s office, medical lab or university and are usually supervised by a pathologist, medical laboratory scientist or other medical professional. An MLT working in a small laboratory or healthcare facility may be asked to perform a large variety of tests, while one working in a large lab or hospital may choose to specialize in a specific area such as blood, pathology or bacteria. And, some MLTs find opportunities assisting medical researchers who are looking for ways to control or cure diseases.

The growth of walk-in care facilities and clinics such as Patient First has resulted in job growth for medical lab technicians because these places do most of their diagnostic testing on site so there is an MLT on staff at all times.  These facilities are also known as urgent care or walk-in clinics.

Being an MLT can be a rewarding career, and your work can be the important bridge between testing and treatment. If you are interested in learning more about our Medical Lab Technician program, click here or call to speak to one of our career counselors.