Lab technicians, professionally referred to as clinical and medical laboratory technicians, get certified to increase job opportunities. Some states require certification, which requires attending an accredited training program, applying with a credentialing organization and passing an exam. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for lab technicians is steady and will continue to grow, making this a rewarding career.
Make sure you have the personal qualities required for the job. Some patients need compassion because they may be in pain or under stress. You should also be detail oriented and have strong technical skills, because lab technicians often use scientific equipment to do their jobs. They also stand for long periods and work with small instruments, needles and samples, so they must be good with their hands.
Obtain a diploma, certificate or associate degree in medical technology or a related health care discipline from an accredited education program. Military experience, on-the-job training or passing scores on another credentialing agency's exam can also qualify you to become certified. The American Society for Clinical Pathology, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences and the American Medical Technologists accredit training programs to become certified.
Check with your state’s regulatory board to find out if you need licensing to practice professionally. Some states require an application and fee, as well as passing a certification exam. Know what association or credentialing agency your state uses for certification and licensing to practice professionally.
Become a member of one or several of the associations affiliated with medical technician education and credentialing. The organizations that accredit training programs and provide certification offer valuable resources for medical technicians, such as distance learning, meetings, seminars and job placement services. Employers post job openings through these organizations to find qualified medical technicians.
Apply to take the certification exam. The ASCP, NAACLS or the AMT offer certification as a laboratory technician or technologist. If the credentialing agency accepts your application and you pass the exam, you become certified as a lab technician.
Your certification expires after several years. Follow the guidelines to maintain your standing. This may include continuing education or taking the certification exam again.