Medical Technologists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in this career, take college preparatory classes while you are in high school. Science courses, especially those involving laboratory work, such as biology and chemistry, will be particularly helpful. Be sure to take math classes, including algebra and calculus, and computer science courses, which will aid you in preparing for working with calculations and technology. Round out your education with humanities classes, including English, which will give you the opportunity to develop your research and report writing skills.

Postsecondary Training

After you finish high school, your next step on the path to becoming a medical technologist is to get a bachelor's degree. A number of colleges and universities offer degrees in medical technology and clinical laboratory science. The typical course of study will involve a "pre-professional" phase lasting two or three years during which you take classes such as chemistry, biology, math, physiology, psychology, English, and statistics. Following this, you will enter a professional phase that is specialized for medical technologists. During this portion of your studies, generally lasting 12 months, you will take classes, such as immunohematology, clinical chemistry, and virology, as well as get hands-on experience working at the medical center or hospital lab associated with your program. You may also be required or encouraged to take classes in management, business, and computer science to prepare you for work in a professional setting. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits medical technology programs, and those who graduate from such programs are eligible to sit for certifying exams. Visit the NAACLS Web site,, to view a listing of schools across the country. Requirements for graduation may vary according to specialty. The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs also accredit postsecondary laboratory science programs.

Advanced work in medical technology leading to graduate degrees and subsequent employment in teaching and research positions is available at an increasing number of universities.

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education (CE) classes is an excellent way to keep your skills up to date and become a more attractive job candidate.  Many professional associations provide such opportunities. For example, the American Society for Clinical Pathology has offered classes such as "Strategies for Success in the Blood Bank," "Contemporary Pathogens," and "Patient Safety." The American Association of Bioanalysts, American Medical Technologists, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, American Society of Cytopathology, and the Clinical Laboratory Management Association also provide CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Certification is highly recommended for those who wish to advance in this field; some employers will not hire technologists without certification. Additionally, those who are certified often receive higher pay than those who are not certified. After meeting certain education and experience requirements and passing appropriate examinations, candidates may be certified by the Board of Certification of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Medical Technologists, or the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts.

Puerto Rico and some states require medical technologists to be licensed or registered. Because licensure requirements vary and because new licensing laws may be adopted in other states, to check with your state's department of health or occupational licensing board for specific information about your area. Those in the profession predict that licensing will become more common as insurance companies involve the evaluation of laboratory certification (which affects the diagnoses of patients) in the cost of insurance to doctors and clinics.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Hands-on laboratory experience is recommended for aspiring medical technologists. You can obtain this experience through laboratory classes in high school and college, and by participating in internships at medical laboratories.

Successful medical technologists possess the following characteristics: accuracy, patience, and the ability to work under pressure. Other essential traits are manual dexterity and good eyesight (with or without glasses). Because the medical technologist must survive a rigorous training program, above-average scholastic aptitude is also necessary.