Working in a laboratory environment requires the use of specialized skills, knowledge, and training – and it’s important to understand the differences between laboratory technologists and technicians in order to ensure accurate results.
The schooling required to become a laboratory technologist or technician depends on the type of work they will be performing. Those looking to become laboratory technologists will need to obtain, at minimum, a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology or Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Science.
On the other hand, those wanting to become technicians need an associate’s degree (or equivalent) related to medical technology – such as a two-year certificate program or diploma from an accredited college. Some technicians may even receive on-the-job training if needed.
A laboratory technologist is responsible for performing more complex medical tests. This typically involves analyzing patient samples, preparing specimens for analysis, monitoring lab equipment, interpreting test results, and providing recommendations as needed. In addition to handling technical duties, they may also be responsible for various administrative tasks such as keeping accurate records or scheduling appointments.
A laboratory technician is primarily responsible for assisting with more routine medical tests. This may include collecting and processing patient samples, maintaining lab equipment, running standard tests, and entering data into computer systems. They may also be involved in manufacturing chemicals used in diagnostic procedures or helping design new processes or testing methods.
It’s important to note that, while there are many similarities between these two roles in regards to what tasks they perform on a daily basis, the key difference lies in the level of complexity of their daily workload. While technologists focus on understanding the scientific principles behind their work and making sure everything is conducted correctly; technicians mostly focus on following set protocols, which often do not require much interpretation.
While there are distinct differences in what goes in to obtain these technical titles, job postings will often use them interchangeably. In an attempt to quell that habit, the ASCP renamed the Medical Technologist certification as the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) certification.
Unfortunately, the terms are still used in place of one another. MLS and MT are both still commonplace terms. Additionally, while those working in the field are more familiar with the differences, an MLT is often considered to be the same to job posters as they can do a fair amount of the same work, but need an MT/MLS present to release the results.
With all this in mind, it becomes more vital than ever that job hunters take the time to read job postings in their entirety before applying. Reading the requirements and the description of the work should give laboratory professionals a better chance at ensuring that they are applying to the right role. Candidates should also be sure to add their certifications and licensure to their resumes so future employers can confirm their qualifications for the opportunity. Doing this means that job hunters do not waste time on a job that will be ill fitting in the long run.
Both of these professional groups are vital to healthcare organizations at every level, from massive hospital chains to local healthcare centers. If you are interested in pursuing a career in either of these professions, then check out our job board here to see what opportunities are available. If you are looking for something different than what you see there, send us an updated resume here and a dedicated recruiter will get back to you as soon as today!