How to become a Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and other procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the human body.

Personal requirements for a Medical Laboratory Technician

  • Attention to detail
  • Able to work accurately and with minimal supervision
  • Able to do repetitive work without losing concentration

Education & Training for a Medical Laboratory Technician

To become a medical laboratory technician you usually have to complete a VET qualification. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a medical laboratory technician through a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.


Duties & Tasks of a Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical laboratory technicians:

  • Set up equipment used in the laboratory and clean it after use
  • Prepare and stain slides of microorganisms for microscopic examination
  • Under supervision, collect blood samples, perform blood counts and carry out tests to determine bleeding, coagulation time, blood types and other characteristics
  • Communicate results of tests to the medical officers who have requested them.

Tasks

  • Tests for diseases by looking for the presence of antibodies and the products of immune response in samples..
  • Refers prescriptions to pharmacists and assists in preparing medications..
  • Prepares and stains slides and tissue sections to study the cells of blood for histological examination..
  • Undertakes and assists with medical analytical procedures and assists anaesthetists and surgical teams..
  • Sets up, checks and maintains operating theatres, and anaesthetic workstations, life support machines and associated equipment..
  • Operates equipment used in diagnosing and monitoring disorders of hearing, the heart, kidneys and nervous system..
  • Performs diagnostic tests on tissues and fluids and analyses the chemical constituents of blood, urine, faeces and tissues..
  • Records the electrical activity of the heart, from which the heart rate is measured and pattern and rhythm is interpreted..

Working conditions for a Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical laboratory technicians work as part of a team with doctors, scientists and laboratory assistants.


Employment Opportunities for a Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical laboratory technicians are employed primarily in pathology practices or hospital laboratories. There are also opportunities with other government authorities such as agriculture departments and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and at universities.


Specializations

Some areas in which medical laboratory technicians may work are:

  • Anatomical Pathology where they process samples of tissue that have been surgically removed from the body so that the pathologist may make a diagnosis.
  • Clinical Chemistry (Biochemistry) where they test blood and body fluids to determine abnormalities, often using specialised instrumentation.
  • Cytology where they prepare and stain smears of body tissues or fluids and examine them with a microscope, looking for cancer or cell changes that may lead to cancer.
  • Haematology where they examine blood, determine its type, perform blood counts and generally assist in the study of blood and its disorders in order to diagnose diseases such as leukaemia and iron deficiency anaemia.
  • Medical Microbiology where they receive samples such as wound swabs, urine and faeces, help to isolate and identify microorganisms associated with various diseases and infections, and examine samples for evidence of these microorganisms.

Phlebotomist

A phlebotomist practises the drawing of blood for therapeutic, transfusion, diagnostic or experimental purposes.

Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and other procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the human body.

Phlebotomist

A phlebotomist practises the drawing of blood for therapeutic, transfusion, diagnostic or experimental purposes.

  • Average age
    Average age
    39 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Stable
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    74% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    40 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,159
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    High skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    62% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    6,200 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.7%
    NSW: 35.5%
    NT: 0.7%
    QLD: 18.8%
    SA: 10.8%
    TAS: 1.6%
    VIC: 18.2%
    WA: 12.8%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.9%
    20-24: 11%
    25-34: 27.9%
    35-44: 21.7%
    45-54: 20.1%
    55-59: 9.9%
    60-64: 5.8%
    65 and Over: 2.7%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 25.6%
    Bachelor degree: 34.2%
    Certificate III/IV: 10%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 7.7%
    Year 10 and below: 4.4%
    Year 11: 2.5%
    Year 12: 15.6%
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