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Depending on the path you take, the time it takes to become a medical technologist can vary. If you go to school full-time for your bachelor’s degree, it takes about four to five years to become a medical technologist. During this time, you should think about:
Bachelor’s degree: It usually takes four years to finish an accredited bachelor’s degree program. If you take more units each semester, you might be able to finish this degree faster.
Work experience: Usually, you can get a license or certification if you have work experience or if you finish a degree program that is accredited by the NAACLS. If you don’t finish a program that is recognized, it could take you a year to get the experience you need to become a medical technologist.
Certification: Some medical technologists choose to get certified before applying for jobs to increase their chances of being hired. Even though the test only takes a day, you may have to spend several months studying so you can pass.
Medical technologists can do their jobs better if they have both hard and soft skills. They can use these skills to take tests, look at data, and talk to nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers. Some skills that help medical technologists do their jobs well are:
A medical technologist, who is also called a medical laboratory scientist, does tests that help doctors diagnose and treat illnesses. They do medical tests and look at samples, such as body fluids or tissues, to give doctors and other health care providers information. Medical technologists can focus on different things, like immunology or microbiology. Even though their jobs can be different depending on their specialty and employer, they often have to do the following:
Medical technologists usually need to get special education, training, and certification before they can get a job. Follow these steps to get started in medical technology if you want to work in that field:
1. Earn a relevant degree.
Many employers want applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or a related field. You can also start with an associate degree program that lasts two years and then transfer your credits to a four-year program. Join a program that the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) has approved. These accredited programs can give you a lot of the skills that employers look for in job candidates.
The following courses are often part of a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory technology and will prepare you for this job:
2. Find out what licenses are needed.
In many states, medical technologists and other people who work in labs are required to have a license. Different states have different rules for getting a license. Most of the time, getting a license means taking an exam, paying an annual fee, or doing some kind of continuing education. Check with the health department in your state to make sure that you meet the requirements for a license. Your state may also make you renew your license at certain times, like once a year.
3. Consider a master’s degree.
Even though you don’t need an advanced degree to get an entry-level job, having one can help you find more jobs. Think about getting a master’s degree in medical technology or a related field if you want to improve your skills, learn more about medical labs, and build up a portfolio of research projects. Higher education at the graduate level can also help you earn more and move up in your career, helping you become a lab director or manager. If you want to do either of these jobs, consider getting a master’s degree in clinical laboratory science or medical research.