Lab Technician Career Outlook
Business is booming in the field of laboratory science. As in many areas of health care, there is a shortage of both laboratory technicians and laboratory technologists. Specially trained techs are needed in labs of small community hospitals and also in major medical centers. Patients are living to be older and as a result are experiencing more health problems. In response to these increasing number of health problems, doctors are ordering more diagnostic studies. Many of these diagnostic studies require laboratory testing that needs to be expertly analyzed.
Lab technicians usually have at least an associate’s degree and often a bachelor's degree in medical science or life science. They are often certified by the state in which they are employed after taking a licensure exam. They are able to work shifts if they work in a hospital setting. They are often required to be on their feet for long periods of time especially if they work inside the hospital's laboratory. Laboratory techs need to pay close attention to detail and get along well with their fellow employees like other laboratory personnel and phlebotomists. They need to have good interpersonal skills when contacting nurses and physicians. A good understanding of body chemistries as well as disease processes is also a plus. And of course the lab technician needs to understand the proper way to operate the complex machines found in the lab.
Current Job Opportunities
More than half of laboratory jobs are found within the hospital. Luckily, there are an abundance of hospitals in most places. If the laboratory technician is willing to relocate to a bigger city, the laboratory jobs often pay more and are more readily available.
A lab technician that is able to complete a number of different types of body fluid analysis or is certified in a particular specialty is often more marketable than other lab techs. Jobs are also available in outpatient clinics, some surgery centers, and also working for companies that manufacture lab equipment.
Current Work Environment
The work environment is often in the lab of a hospital. It can be stressful for the laboratory tech at times because the laboratory can become overwhelmingly busy. The lab tech, however, should be able to finish his assigned tasks in an efficient and precise manner. It is very important that the laboratory tech provide the patient and the health care professionals caring for the patient with accurate laboratory results. A mix up in the lab could be disastrous for patient safety.
Lab technicians are required to wear protective garb while examining body fluids like blood and urine that could be contaminated either with bacteria or with viruses like HIV or hepatitis. Lab technicians protect themselves by wearing goggles, gloves, lab coats, and often even masks.
What the Future Holds
The future of laboratory science is definitely bright. Hospitals need well-trained lab employees to ensure the safety of the patients that come into the hospital as patients or visit the hospital's lab as outpatients. The number of laboratory techs that are needed in the hospital setting is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.