What Is a Medical Technologist?


Quick Answer

Medical technologists are highly trained professionals who perform advanced scientific tests on blood and bodily fluids and analyze their results. They work closely with physicians and laboratory directors in hospitals and laboratories.

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Full Answer

Chemical content, cell count, drug levels and blood type are some of the things that medical technologists determine from blood, tissue and body fluid samples. Medical technologists look for bacteria, parasites, cancerous cells or other microorganisms present in the specimens they analyze and check blood matches for transfusions. They operate highly sophisticated medical equipment and may simultaneously perform complex procedures. They are responsible for accurately interpreting the results of the tests.

Working with possibly infectious specimens is an occupational hazard to medical technologists, so they follow stringent infection control and sterilization protocols. Having to stand for hours in a laboratory and sometimes working on call are other challenges that medical technologists deal with on the job.

A bachelor's degree, preferably in medical technology, clinical laboratory science, biology, microbiology, biochemistry or allied health technologies, is the minimum requirement to qualify as a medical technologist. In addition, the National Accrediting Agency of Clinical Laboratory Science requires finishing an accredited medical technologist program. Some states may require professional certification through an exam.

In 2013, medical technologists earned a median annual salary of $58,430.

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