Although they may not provide direct assistance to patients, medical technologists play a huge role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Medical technologists design and administer the crucial laboratory testing that can lead to breakthroughs in modern medicine and the improved well-being of those who suffer from physical ailments.
Health and medical programs in medical technology aim to teach students how to perform the job duties like analyzing bodily fluids or cell samples or looking for abnormalities in blood. Students who earn medical technology degrees can typically find work as medical laboratory technicians, a role in which they perform mostly routine medical laboratory tests, or as medical laboratory technologists, where they will be required to perform more complex laboratory tests.
What Do Online Medical Technology Degree Programs Entail?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians need a bachelor's degree in order to work in the profession. Many students who pursue a degree in this field choose to earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science or Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology degree.
Some schools also offer an Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology as well, which could lead to a career as a laboratory assistant or possibly an entry level position as a medical technologists or technician.
According to the BLS, medical technologists sometimes earn an associate's degree or certificate in clinical laboratory science in addition to a medical technology degree in order to gain a greater understanding of both of the major laboratory disciplines. The BLS also notes that some states and certain employers require medical technologists to become licensed in order to practice in the profession, although specific requirements tend to vary.
Although courses vary from school to school, medical technology programs place an emphasis on science-related courses such as:
Medical technologists also complete extensive coursework in hematology, the study of blood. Medical technology students also need certain clinical laboratory skills and may be required to take courses in advanced mathematics and statistics.
Career Outlook for Medical Technology Majors
Due to an aging population with more medical conditions requiring diagnoses, the demand in this occupation is expected to be high. According to the BLS, prospective national employment growth for 2012 to 2022 is as follows:
- Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians: 30 percent
- Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists: 14 percent
On a related note, nuclear medicine technologists, the professionals who prepare radioactive drugs for patients undergoing scans, are expected to see a 20 percent increase in job growth nationally from 2012 to 2022. According to the BLS, nuclear medicine technologists typically need an associate's or bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine in order to work in the profession.
"Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm#tab-1
"Nuclear Medicine Technologists," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nuclear-medicine-technologists.htm#tab-1