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Medical Laboratory Technologists a U.S. News & World Report “Best Career” for 2011

Once Again, Medical Technologists (MT) and Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS) Are Top Careers

Medical technologists (MT) and clinical laboratory scientists (CLS) were declared among “The 50 Best Careers of 2011” by U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) in its annual survey of high-demand careers. Editors at the respected news magazine declared “clinical lab technicians and technologists” to be the “unsung heroes of the healthcare industry.”

Medical technologists and clinical laboratory scientists had a prominent place in the USNWR’s special issue featuring “The 50 Best Careers of 2011,” published on Dec 6. 2010. MTs, pathologists, and clinical laboratory managers will see the MT and CLS career opportunity profiled under “Best Careers 2011: Lab Technician.”

Medical technologists (MT) and clinical laboratory scientists (CLS) can earn more than $55,000 according to U.S. News & World Report.

High Demand for Clinical Lab MTs, CLSs, MLTs, and Other Professionals

Each year, USNWR publishes its analysis of the “50 Best Careers.” In each of the past two years, Lab Technician has made the list. According to the editors of U.S. News & World Report:

  • “Job growth is expected to be faster than average, with the number of clinical lab workers rising about 16% between 2008 and 2018, adding about 25,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.
  • “Median annual take-home pay was $36,030 in 2009. For those at the top of the pay bracket, salaries can be more than $55,210.
  • “[Stress level] is pretty low, though hefty patient loads and keeping up with technological and regulatory issues can require some serious multi-tasking. You’ll be working in a clean, well-lighted lab most of the time.
  • “The lower-cost education is a highlight of this occupation. For entry-level work, you’ll likely need to have an associate’s degree or complete a certificate program. It’s possible to learn some of your skills on the job.”

Predict Strong Job Growth and Above Average Income for MTs

“To come up with this year’s list,” the report stated, “U.S. News considered job-growth projections from the Labor Department, estimates for 2008 to 2018, the most recent data available. We narrowed it down to occupations that are expected to add jobs at an above-average rate over the next decade, as well as those that provide an above-average median income.

“We also considered, where possible, data on job satisfaction, turnover, and impending retirements, which crank up openings in jobs that may have only slightly above-average employment growth,” the report continued.

This continues to validate the belief that demand for all sorts of technical healthcare positions will only increase, not only here in America, but in Canada and around the world. Healthcare systems on four continents have reported serious shortages in skilled technical employees in all aspects of healthcare.

Dark Daily covered this topic in January with “Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians Are Among Top Growth Jobs for Next Decade” after Lab Technician made it onto the U.S. News top careers list for 2010.

With its selection of MTs and CLSs as “Best Careers for 2011,” U.S. News & World Report is signaling that demand for proficient clinical laboratory professionals will remain strong in coming years. That means that hiring practices at clinical laboratories must evolve as well.

On that point, Dark Daily recently reported on why clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups should be expanding their medical technologist recruitment programs to include the use of the Web and social media. These powerful new recruiting approaches were described during The Dark Report’s November audio conference titled “How to Solve Your Lab’s Med-Tech Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention Problems Now.”

By selecting Laboratory Technologist as a “50 Best Careers for 2011,” U.S. News & World Report is affirming the ever-growing shortage of medical technologists and clinical laboratory scientists. Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers may want to incorporate this U.S. News & World Report story into the recruiting materials they use when hiring new laboratory staff.

Related Information:

Best Careers 2011: Healthcare Jobs

Best Careers 2011: Laboratory Technician

The 50 Best Careers of 2011

The 50 Best Careers of 2010

How to Solve Your Lab’s Med-Tech Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention Problems Now

Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians Are Among Top Growth Jobs for Next Decade

Critical shortage of lab technicians

ASCP Works to Fight Lab Staff Shortage

33 responses to “Medical Laboratory Technologists a U.S. News & World Report “Best Career” for 2011”

  1. Josh Pechtel, MLS(ASCP) says:

    I think it’s great that the medical laboratory field is getting exposure, but at what cost? As of late 2010, both the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA) merged under the ASCP banner, making Medical Technologists (MT) and Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS) (which, for clinical purposes are synonymous job titles with the same training) obselete. The current title is Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS). Formalities aside, the beginning of the article starts with a description of “Medical Technologists”, but later goes on to discuss the wages and benefits of a Medical Laboratory Technician, which is by no means the same profession. Education requirements, job duties, and salaries differ greatly between the two titles. I was excited when I was forwarded this article…

  2. Karen Maruniak says:

    I have been a Medical Technologist for over 30 years (M.T.(A.S.C.P.) and a Laboratory Manager for over 10 years. It is important to let those interested in the career know that many, many laboratories will only hire registered Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT’s) and Medical Technologists (MT’s). Minimum requirement with the ASCP (American Society of Clinical Pathologists)for MLT’s is an Associate degree with a clinical rotation; and for an MT, a Bachelor’s degree with a clinical rotation is required.

  3. Thomas Moody, MT(ASCP) says:

    “[Stress level] is pretty low, though hefty patient loads and keeping up with technological and regulatory issues can require some serious multi-tasking. You’ll be working in a clean, well-lighted lab most of the time.”

    Sorry, but the stress level is NOT low. As a matter of fact, it is extremely high. Yes, the multi-tasking is intense.

    Maybe one will get a clean, well-lighted lab. However, they’ll also probably get a huge amount of noise, a huge amount of chaos, and numerous personality conflicts.

    There’s a reason why there’s a shortage of Medical Technologists. Its because many, many leave the field quite rapidly after entering it. Why? Because “the profession” overworks, over-stresses and underpays. Along with the job are requirements to work numerous holidays and weekends. In some cases hours vary from day to day making it difficult to settle into a daily pattern.

    I would not consider Clinical Laboratory Science work as any kind of “best career” choice. Before considering making this a career choice, talk to some “real” techs in the field, not the ones who spend their time supervising or sitting at desks more than 75% of the time.

    I’ve been in this “profession” for 32 years, including 8 years in management. It COULD be a rewarding profession, but today’s laboratories are run like factories and one gets many criticisms and far too few kudos.

  4. Derban Isaac says:

    Recently graduated with a Degree in Medical Laboratory Technology in Ghana and currently undergoing Internship and National Service. I must Confess the work load is so much over here.

    I really agree with Thomas, There’s a reason why there’s a shortage of Medical Technologists. Its because many, many leave the field quite rapidly after entering it. Why? Because “the profession” overworks, over-stresses and underpays. Along with the job are requirements to work numerous holidays and weekends. In some cases hours vary from day to day making it difficult to settle into a daily pattern.

  5. Angela Brzeczkowski,MT(ASCP) says:

    I am agreement with the article that 1) Medical Technology is a career. After that I am in agreement with a few responses such as stated by “Thomas” and “Derban” previously,

    ” the profession” overworks, over-stresses and underpays. Along with the job are requirements to work numerous holidays and weekends. In some cases hours vary from day to day making it difficult to settle into a daily pattern.”

    The multi-tasking in warp-speed is VERY stressful especially when you throw a couple of militant-alpha-personalities in the mix. Plus the fact there are people working in the labs who have been there before they were computerized. These are the resources who should be training new technologists to keep the theory. Unfortunately they are still working because of the economy and with jobs so scarce it becomes VERY competitive for a first shift job. When employers do not pay for training it becomes cost-prohibitive to keep up with the latest technology on your own.

    How is this career not stressful when you have families after school and the economy dictates the “need” for 24/7 service? Unless you have a MD and are on top of the food chain or have gotten a Bachelors or Masters Degree in Laboratory science you do not make money that is worth the stress of missing out on your families lives which is why it is so hard to fill the 2nd and 3rd shift positions.

    I have been laid off for close to 6 months and the only positions that are available are an hour or more away from my home and without hesitation they would require me working double shifts and weekends. Hiring a babysitter negates the money.

  6. Susan Albers says:

    I have worked the lab for 30+ years, starting at a Large Hospital in NE. Now I am at a small rural hospital lab in Upstate, NY

    Recently, I have “gone down” to nights. On the plus side, the schedule is more predictable than our day shift where the hours usually change every day. The kids are grown and gone, so that part of life is easy.

    During the Day Shift, we are responsible for EVERYTHING. This includes dealing with Dx codes not passing medical necessity (Calling or Faxing MD’s offices) to identifying an Antibody in BB. Once in a while, a fellow Tech answers the phone, “lab, secretary speaking”.

    We JUST lost our other Night-Tech to a hospital that is matching his current wage, and is also giving him a $5,000 sign-on-bonus.

    The plus to this Tech shortage? Improved wages? Might I live and work long enough to reap those benefits? We will see! LOL

    Respectfully submitted.

  7. Abugu Chisom says:

    I study Bsc Medical Laboratory Technology in Ghana and I’m in my second year.I Would like to know if Bsc medical lab science is the same as Bsc medical lab technology. Some schools award Bmls and not Bsc in medical lab science, also what’s the difference??

  8. Nick M says:

    I wouldn’t suggest anyone going in the field either I have been doing this for 5 years and the stress level is extremely HIGH. No respect at all in the field yet everyone calls you for answers. There is not near enough people to do the work and yet administation thinks that you should cut more people. You can make more money with just a one year of training as an LPN than as MT with a 4 year degree. I guess I am another one that will be obtaining another degree in the very near future and moving on to better things. I would be helpful to have a group to stand up for us like they should and get us better pay, work conditions, and more help ASCP we give you enough money). Yes most of the time the lab is stuck in the basement with very little lighting, not enough air conditioning to keep your machine and you cool enough. So think hard before you go into this field and actually talk to some techs first.

  9. N. wijekoon. says:

    I am working as a medical laboratory technologist in Srilanka. now I feel to come to USA to study MLS and to get a job with good salaries. I am very fear to give up my permenent job
    So what are your ideas.

  10. maria says:

    i’ve been working as a medical technologist here in the philippines for 23yrs. already.This has been my dream to work in canada . i just dont have any idea on what what to do,where to that i read this article about medical technologist, im really looking forward to hear from you for more informations on how to apply.pls do reply…thank you very much

  11. grace says:

    hello maria, im from the philippines too and is taking up the bmls program. is it really hard to become rich as a medtech here in our country? how’s the job demand? i was hoping to get employed immediately after i graduate but now i have doubts of succeeding in this career.

  12. Carol says:

    To Grace and Maria,
    I am from Phil ,been working in Saudi for six years,now in Texas USA…
    Take AMT or ASCPi exam.Apply for Visa Screen in CGFNS…nice to work in small town here in Texas,but am moving to big city….

  13. Julia says:

    I am a recent grad, I graduated in june 2011 and had a job 6 days later. The job is in crazy demand if you are not buckeled down where you currently reside. As far as stress, it can be, multitasking, nurses, doctors, ref labs blowing the phones off the hook, it can be a lot at once but would I say steer clear because of it? NO WAY. It is a rapid growing feild and so many MT, MLT are set to retire in the next 5 years. There is alot of opportunity for new grads.

  14. Christine says:

    As for myself, I am better off working as a Health Information Specialist where hours are normal and looking for work is really easy to find.

  15. Namzom says:

    i am very happy to know medical laboratory technology has a wide scope and its being considered as one of the best career. i did my Bsc MLT and now m working in a hospital lab. well i must confess that i am not really satisfied with my working environment because there is no clear job description for Bsc MLT people and they are treated and given the same work like lab technicians. This has really brought down our moral values because we are supposed to be supervising or dealing with more advanced tests but we are dumped in the lab to do the same routine work..this is really frustrating.

  16. raja says:

    hi im raja from pakistan.I did 2 year bsc with(microbiology,biochemistry,zoology) as major than i did my 2 year master program with Biochemistry.After my master i started job in blood banking there i also perform different routine tests including clinical biochemistry hematology and serology also i get certification from iccbs(international centre for chemical and biological sciences well known international research centre in pakistan) in medical technologist training program.Right now im working on advance instrument performing serology testing and biochemical all iwould like to ask iwish to work at abroad also to get more certification in same field.Any idea from where i should start and what the cradibility of my qualification? i did masters from karachi university well known university at international level.
    .Thanks to all.

  17. yousif fadil mohamad says:

    I know that in place other than sudan the medical laboratory job has a good career and name but in sudan we have no fixed name for the .I have a Msc in Heamatology and anther Msc in histopathology (cytology ) as a supervisor in a hospital also I have a master in health from sudan medical specialiation board but still i am not satisfied and all college are looking for another job .

  18. Paula Hartman says:

    I have been a med tech for 26 years. The idea that this job in low stress is almost laughable. Imagine being a young tech working by yourself in the middle of the night when a patient goes into DIC…in other words,
    she is bleeding to death. And all that stand between her dying is how fast you can move your hands. Also, we are almost the lowest paid healthcare professions.

  19. amar says:

    How much is the entry level salary of Medical lab Technologist in New York or USA as a whole??

  20. amar says:

    Some people say this field is very good and some says this field is so so, I am starting Medical Lab Technologist form next semester. I am wondering how much money does a Medical Lab Technologist actually makes?

  21. Oscar Galvan says:

    I personally was bored with the job and the mediocre salary prospects and after a couple years changed to engineering. I am currently in a PhD program at one of the best universities in the US that will result in a starting salary of about $130k once I graduate.

    Amar, as to your question:

    It varies depending on the state. Some states allow the hire of MLT’s (2 year degree, such as NY and AZ). Other states allow you to only higher MT’s (4 year degree, CA). The salaries
    I found for NYC are abysmally low. An MLT starts at an average of about $40k a year depending on state and area. If you only have enough time for a 2 year degree, MLT is a good start since you can get your MT online and then be eligible for bigger/better jobs. If you have enough time for a 4 year degree nurses get paid about 50% more. If you have any questions e-mail me at

  22. Lister says:

    The pay is at $19.00 to $22.00 per hour for MLT (2 year degree) and a TINY bit more for MT (4 year degree) here in Maryland where I work. I’ll tell you this, though… it may sound like alot until you factor in that alot of people have paid $20,000 to $80,000 in college to get the jobs… and take into consideration the “shift food chain” of the lab (you WILL be on graveyard shift for the first 2 to 5 years unless someone dies or you luck out).

    All in all, many people end up in debt because their school costs did not warrant the low pay, and many simply stay in the lab long enough to go back to school for things like Physician Assistant, Nursing, Public Health, ect. On my shift right now, 5 out of the 8 people working are in school again for a different profession, including myself.

  23. Lister says:

    I am a Medical Technologist in Maryland, USA. I recently graduated last year, and I started at $19.92 an hour in a large hospital. The rates around here are $19 to $25, the higher amount being with experience. I think working in the lab is ok, but I do not see myself staying in this field longer than two or three years (just long enough to finish up schooling in another field). As soon as I went to clinicals at 5 different hospitals, I knew I had made a huge mistake, but I finished anyway. I have over $50,000 in student loans and a Bachelors degree, yet I don’t even clear $20 an hour; nurses at my job make almost twice what I do with only an Associates degree, heck even the LPNs (certificate program!) make more than we do in the lab. I think there needs to be alot of change in the lab field before you will get people to stay. The current staff are all aging mid 50s or 60s people who only stay there because they don’t want to start over in a new field, combined with alot of immigrant or Visa workers who have little to no bills, and are only working there until they finish another degree. The younger generation of techs arrive, see the horrible pay, and leave as fast as they can finish another degree. I’d say only do this profession if you can take a factory-like setting with low pay. If you say you like science and thats why you want to be a lab tech, try Microbiology (which is hard to get into, usually it involves someone dying for a spot to open up), otherwise you will be in the “core lab”, where you will spend your days putting tubes of blood onto an instrument, rushing to do maintenance on it, and all around being half bored/ stressed out because the whole hospital urgently needs lab results, but they don’t respect you.

  24. JennaB says:

    In agreement with the above. Everybody wants everything NOW. The nurses do nothing except whine for more money, more help, and then sit on their butts while they order the CNA’s around and they are getting paid $70/hr which is INSANE…..the laboratories are grossly understaffed and the staff is grossly underpaid. It is not the nurses who can process transfusions, but the lab staff. You have to be able to draw blood on EVERYBODY: obese, old, babies, iv drug users who have no veins left, bc the nurses refuse to draw blood. Then you have to bring it to the lab, process it, and hope that the P.O.S. analyzer doesn’t break on you and you have to fix it. Then somebody comes in bleeding to death and you have to process enough blood products to keep them from dying and the lab ALWAYS gets the blame and the nurses skate. You will work 24/7 and NEVER get to leave on time. 99% of the time the nurses do not even know what a critical result is for and you have to them to call the doctor…….it is a CRAZY field and really for the stress and the money, just go to school and learn to draw blood- that is a worthy skill. And if you work for a Catholic Health Initiative you are guaranteed to have crappy equipment that breaks all the time.

  25. SarahC says:

    Sincerely, this is not a job I’d wish on my worst enemy. For the money and education, you’re better off becoming a nurse because you’ll make significantly more money and have a change at upward mobility. As a med tech, you won’t go anywhere. Infection Control? They want nurses. Quality Improvement? They want nurses. Management? Nurses.

    There’s no corporate ladder. More like a stepstool. You may become a shift leader or a lab manager but that’s it. A very lucky few can transition to information systems but that’s getting rarer.

    The field is completely stagnant. The same people have been working 20+ years and they are bitter! Don’t expect change because they remember when you could eat and smoke in the lab! They know everything and don’t want to hear from young whipper-snappers.

    The hours are awful – which is true with every hospital job but especially in the lab where it’s constantly short staffed so if you get thrown on the schedule for another shift or are placed on call the entire month of December, suck it up because back in the Reagan adminstration they worked 24/7, writing their results by candlelight!

    Seriously, if you feel like this is the job for you, go to a local hospital and talk to the people working. Find one person who likes their job and doesn’t sincerely regret the decisions that led to them working in the lab. Don’t make my mistakes.

  26. Cleo says:

    Worked in this field for several years and it’s very stressful. You work yourself to exhaustion chasing stats all day. Definitely not worth the pay for that much education. I am going into nursing and will not have to take any support courses because I have more than enough due to the curriculum for a med tech. No route for advancement and if you don’t play the politics right (like sabotaging your co-workers)your career is ruined. If you decide to work in healthcare just be aware that your job will be held over your head if you don’t take the vaccinations they force on you.

  27. Cleo says:

    ASCP should be fighting for higher wages if they want people to come into this field which requires you to expose yourself to every sickness and body fluid out there.

  28. Wajiha S. E. says:

    I have worked as a med. technologist for years ant taught medical technology program as well as a lead instructor.
    This is a very important job where 80% approx. of doc.’s treatment decisions depend on lab results. For all the responsibility:
    1. The salary is embarrassingly low. The clin.lab environment
    2. as Cleo said in her comment — politics and low/bad attitudes, managements not interested to fix the lousy culture.
    3. There is no hope unless you make the job look attractive, shortage of MLT, MT will continue.
    Recruit from overseas, get ready for more errors and multiple problems.

  29. Wajiha S. E. says:

    Sarah C. I concur with you, this is also not the job that I would want anyone that I care about to do. The clin. lab environment and politics really bad just about every place in MN. Yes, people are bitter and angry and are ready to snap you, not at all a decent work environment. Standing on feet for extended hours and daily short staffing resulted in hip repl., knee repl. surgeries, bone spurs etc. on feet and so surgical removal, every middle age co worker was suffering and salary for MLT or MT was < $20/hr., for all the responsibilities you that rests on your shoulders. This shortage will continue, as lab environment attitudes stink and no management cares, period!!! Good Luck finding decent people, yep!

  30. laguera says:

    Wow…. And to think I found all these comments because I’m in the RN program and had the crazy idea of switching my major to cls…. I will no longer have this crazy idea!!! Lol Thanks guys!

  31. CharlotteS says:

    I agree with all of the above, with even more implications. I have been an MT for more than 40 years. Because of all the reasons listed above I left the micro lab environment 25 years ago when a chance to become an Infection Preventionist fell into my lap!

    I am retirement age now, but love my job as an ICP, except for one huge detail! My department has 6 RNs, none of whom are in patient care (Employee Health and Infection Prevention). Since Employee Health doesn’t require an RN license, I can do everything that they do. Over the past 25 years, I taught myself to be extremely computer literate. For the past 4 years, I have been solely responsible for the mandatory reporting required by CMS to bring maximum reimbursement to the hospital. Our facility has many desparate EMRs non of which interface. Through trial and a lot of error and tears, I finally devised a process to mine the necessary data needed to report to NHSN–a process that is >80 pages long! Sooooo, I can do everything that my co-workers can do…but they can do NOTHING that I can do! AND what I can do brings about $2 million in reimbursement to the hospital!

    In keeping with all of the above descriptions of the limitations of our field—my job description is “Non-RN Infection Preventionist” and my hourly wage reflects my non-descript position! When I recently asked to have my job description changed to reflect what I do, I was told “You understand, I can’t let you make what the licensed people in the department make.” I respectfully suggested that the licensed people could do my reporting and I would retire, turning in my letter of intent to retire immediately.

    The general mentality of hospital workplaces is ‘the RN is the most important employee around’. I wonder if the CEO will think that when 2016 rolls around and the hospital is short a couple of million dollars!

  32. Scott says:

    I have been working in the hospital lab setting for over 26 years. I’m certified MLT ASCP and MT AMT.

    For all the above who have stated that MLS and MLT are different; I say what a load of manure. In every lab I have ever worked both MT’s and MLT’s work side by side perfroming the SAME testing using the SAME anaylzers. Every MLT I have every worked with has EXACTLY the same bench responsibilities as the MT’s. Does anyone here actually think that liberal arts courses make a better tech? With the exception of molecular I can’t think of a single area of testing where a MLT can’t work.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend this career field anymore. Why would anyone want to spend the time and money to get a degree and MAYBE make $40,000 a year? A nurse can get a 2 year degree, work only 3 days a week and make $65,000+…

    We have only ourselves to blame. The ASCP has done an abysmal job in representing us, lobbying for better legislation and better wages. After all, they are an organization of pathologists, not techs.

    We must set a standard; 4 years BS required, only ONE accredtiting agency with only ONE certification, and grandfather everyone certified after 2005.

    Then we MUST insist on higher wages; there are less than 800,000 of us and we make less than $50,000 average? What a joke. No one wants to do a job if it doesn’t pay, hence the shortage. Bump the average to $65,000 and there would never be a shortage again.

  33. Bill Beisel says:

    Been in the field for 40 years……tires of being underpaid,overworked and under appreciated….the only time you hear anything is when something has gone wrong…….I’m out……..good luck

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