What Do You Need to Be a Lab Tech?

Lab techs play an important role in healthcare, and their responsibilities vary depending on the type of facility they work in. But what do you need to be a lab tech?

Keep reading to learn about the educational requirements, skills, and job outlook for lab techs.

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Lab techs must have at least an associate’s degree in medical laboratory science, clinical laboratory science, or in a related field1. Those with a bachelor’s degree may have a better chance of getting hired and may advance to higher-level positions more quickly.

High School

You need a high school diploma or equivalent to work as a lab tech. Although you may be able to find some entry-level positions with just a high school diploma, most employers prefer candidates who have completed some type of postsecondary education, such as a certificate or associate degree in medical laboratory technology.

Community College

Community college is one of the most affordable ways to earn your degree or certificate and start your career. In fact, many community colleges offer low-cost or free programs that can prepare you for a job in the medical field.

While you might be able to find a job with a high school diploma, most laboratory technicians will need to have at least an Associate’s degree from an accredited community college or university. If you’re interested in more specialized positions, such as working in a blood bank or research lab, you may need to complete a Bachelor’s degree program.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in medical technology, clinical laboratory science or a related field is generally required to work as a lab tech. Some employers may hire workers with an associate degree or certificate in medical laboratory technology, but these workers may be limited to performing only routine tests.


Laboratory technicians generally need at least an associate’s degree in medical laboratory technology or a related field. However, some jobs may only require a high school diploma or equivalent and provide on-the-job training. Employers also value practical experience, so internships and clinical rotations can be helpful. Strong communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills are important, as well as the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

Technical Skills

A laboratory technician is responsible for many of the day-to-day operations in a medical lab. They collect and process patient specimens, perform basic tests, maintain lab equipment, and record and report their findings. To succeed in this career, you will need to have strong technical skills and be comfortable working with a variety of scientific equipment. You will also need to be detail-oriented and able to work independently. Below are some specific skills that you will need to succeed as a lab tech:

-Ability to follow protocols and procedures
-Attention to detail
-Comfort working with scientific equipment
-Data entry and recordkeeping skills
-Independent decision making
-Keen observation skills
-Manual dexterity
-Math skills
-Organizational skills
-Problem solving ability

Interpersonal Skills

In order to be successful in the lab, it is important to have strong interpersonal skills. This means being able to effectively communicate with other members of the team, as well as patients and their families. It also involves being able to work well under pressure, and being able to maintain a calm and professional demeanor at all times.

Physical Stamina

In order to work as a lab tech, you will need to have physical stamina. This job can be physically demanding, as you will be on your feet for long periods of time and may be required to lift heavy objects. If you have a medical condition that limits your ability to stand or lift, this job may not be right for you.

Work Environment

Most lab techs work in hospitals or clinics. They may also work in physician’s offices, research laboratories, or pharmaceutical companies. Some work in industrial settings, such as food and beverage companies, where they test products for quality control.


Hospital laboratory technicians and technologists generally work a regular 40-hour week. However, some overtime may be necessary to complete certain tests, particularly in small labs where staffing is limited. Many hospitals have night and weekend shifts to cover the needs of doctors and patients.

Research Lab

A job in a Research Lab, you will be working with a team of other scientists to develop new products or medications. This can be a very exciting and rewarding career, but it is also important to remember that it is important to follow all safety protocols while working in the lab. You will be expected to wear protective gear, maintain a clean work area, and follow all safety procedures.

Industrial Lab

In an industrial lab, you will be working with chemicals and other substances that may be harmful if not handled properly. You will need to wear proper safety gear, including gloves, goggles, and a lab coat. You will also need to follow all safety procedures to avoid accidental exposure to dangerous materials.


There are many benefits to becoming a certified lab technician. Certification ensures you have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform your job correctly. Certification also gives you the credibility you need to advance in your career.


Even though certification is not required, many employers prefer to hire certified medical laboratory technicians. A certification demonstrates that an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job. The two most common certifications for medical laboratory technicians are offered by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).


In order to become a certified medical laboratory technician (MLT), you’ll need to complete an accredited certification program and pass an exam. Although certification isn’t required in some states, most employers prefer to hire certified technicians. In addition, certain states may require certification in order to practice.

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) is the primary accrediting body for MLT programs. To be eligible for certification, you’ll need to graduate from a NAACLS-accredited program and pass an examination.

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