Choosing to work in the field of medical technology is an excellent career decision. Many areas within the health care sector can expect significant job growth over the next ten years, including medical technologists and technicians. You should recognize the differences between medical laboratory technologists, also known as medical laboratory scientists, and medical technicians. While a bachelor degree in science is typically required for technologists, technicians graduate with an associate degree or earned certification. Medical technologists carry greater responsibilities, perform more complex tasks and supervise technicians.
Medical Technology at a Glance
Medical technologists serve a vital function in the medical industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median national salary for medical technologists is $46,680 annually through 2020. You will typically work within health care facilities and laboratories (over half of medical technologists work in hospitals), and some locales will require you to become licensed or registered. Beyond supervising and training technicians, medical technologists also collect and analyze body fluids. Using advanced equipment and techniques, technicians record test results and report their findings to physicians and other practitioners. You should plan to work around-the-clock shifts and to wear protective clothing and gear within the workplace.
Driven largely by aging baby boomers and higher numbers of insured Americans, the health care industry will grow significantly over the next decade. The demand for medical technologists will increase in response to this growth. Presently, over 330,000 jobs are available nationally, but the BLS predicts a 13 percent increase between 2010 and 2020. These figures vary depending on specializations within the field, and these diverse pathways open the door to many career opportunities. Beyond generalized medical technology practice, you may focus on a number of specialties. These include:
- Molecular biology technologists who test cell samples for proteins and nucleic acids
- Immunology specialists who test responses to foreign bodies
- Clinical chemistry technologists who analyze the hormonal and chemical nature of body fluids
- Immunohematology technologists who collect and prepare blood and plasma for transfusions
- Microbiology specialists who identify microorganisms
- Forensic medical technologists who assist in criminal investigations
Depending on your specialization, you can expect to find employment within medical facilities, pharmaceutical companies, research organizations and governments. A degree in medical technology will also serve as an excellent steppingstone toward more advanced microbiology fields that may include mycology, parasitology, virology, bacteriology and many others.