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Difference Between Medical Lab Technician and Medical Technologist

Difference Between Medical Lab Technician and Medical Technologist

Jan 26, 2021 | BizTalk, Healthcare, Medical Lab Technician

Difference Between Medical Lab Technician and Medical Technologist

Medical lab technician and medical technologist, both work in laboratories to analyze patient specimens and provide physicians with crucial diagnostic information. Lab professionals run tests on a variety of materials to identify information from blood type to genetic abnormalities.   

Also known as medical laboratory scientists or clinical laboratory scientists. There is a crossover between the job responsibilities and how the medical lab technician profile is different from a medical technologist.  

What does a Medical Lab Technician Do?  

Lab technicians play a crucial role in the overall functionality of hospitals and clinics. They are part of a virtual team required for proper patient care. Medical lab technicians work with lab managers, physicians and technologists to perform a variety of tests. They play an active role in the diagnosis process behind-the-scenes and do not typically contact patients.  

What is a Medical Technologist?  

Medical technologists prepare samples for analysis using specialized equipment and perform a careful analysis of blood, bodily fluids and tissues to reveal the chemical composition and cell count.    

They run complex tests and interpret results to aid diagnosis and to provide high-level patient care. Technologists frequently come across infectious samples and pay attention to infection control by properly executing sterilization procedures. Medical technologists may have to work long hours and irregular shifts and act quickly during emergencies.  

What is the difference between a Medical Technologist and a Lab Technician?  

Although related occupations, both lab technologists and lab technicians perform different duties and have different education requirements. To become a medical technologist, you need to have a bachelor’s degree and a more extensive knowledge base than a technician.   

  • Medical lab technicians acquire, prepare and analyze samples and perform routine laboratory procedures and instrument/equipment maintenance. Medical technologists can perform all the same duties, but also perform more in-depth analysis physicians need.  
  • Technologists also contribute to research and developing new methods of testing and analysis in research settings.  
  • The main distinction between a medical technologist and a medical lab technician is that technologists can conduct more complex experiments than technicians.    
  • Technologists are also trained to run manual tests, which technicians do not to do.   
  • Also, technologists may supervise and train technicians in the lab.   

Also, medical technologists usually pursue a specialization. Some of the specialties include:  

  • Blood bank technologist: These specialists are also known as immunohematology technologists and collect and interpret blood sample. They also prepare blood for transfusion.   
  • Immunology technologists: This specialty involves analyzing the immune system’s response and effectiveness.   
  • Clinical chemistry technologists: They prepare samples and analyze chemical and hormone composition in body fluids.   
  • Cytotechnologists: These lab professionals focus on the study of body tissues for signs of cancer.  
  • Microbiology technologists: These technologists analyze and research microorganisms like bacteria.   

Both professionals can opt for specialties in a specific area once they have gained significant experience.   

Where do Medical Lab Technicians and Medical Technologists Work? 

In addition to clinical laboratories and hospitals, medical lab techs and technologists are needed in:  

  • Public health labs  
  • Biotechnology companies  
  • Law enforcement and forensic labs  
  • The pharmaceutical and chemical industry   
  • Veterinary hospitals and clinics  
  • Blood donation and transplant centres  
  • Fertility clinics  
  • The food industry  
  • The cosmetics industry  
  • Research and education  

In these settings, lab professionals work under the supervision of a manager, supervisor or administrator.   

What Education and Training required becoming Lab Technician & Technologists?  

To become an entry-level medical technologist, a four-year bachelor’s degree is a must. One can study in medical technology and or life sciences. Medical technology education covers the field in-depth and thus preferred. The degree program covers math, biology, chemistry, statistics and clinical conduct.   

Medical lab technicians typically obtain an associate’s degree or a diploma. The main requirements to obtain a medical lab technician diploma are at least high school level education in math, chemistry and biology.   

Certification  

Healthcare is a regulated profession in Canada, and aspiring professionals need to get certified in the chosen field.   

To practice as a Medical Laboratory Technologist, one has to clear the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) certification.   

Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario (MLPAO) is the certifying body for Medical Lab Technicians/ Assistants.   

Job Outlook and Salary   

Lab professionals have different job prospects depending on where they work in Canada.  

The job outlook for medical lab technicians over the next 3 years is expected to remain relatively stable, and more positions will become available due to retirements. The average salary for laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants in Ontario is $27.40/hr and can make up to $41/hr with experience.   

Medical Technologists can expect job stability and job prospects are good in Canada. 75% of medical laboratory technologists work all year, while 25% work only part of the year. The average salary for a medical technologist in Canada is $38.50/hr and $39/hr in Toronto region.   

How to Choose Career between Medical Lab Technician and Medical Technologists?

Choosing between a career as a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) and a Medical Technologist (MT) involves considering various factors, including education, responsibilities, career advancement, and personal preferences. Here are some key points to help you make an informed decision:

1. Educational Requirements

MLT: Typically requires an associate degree or a certificate program.

MT: Requires a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or a related field.

2. Responsibilities

MLT: Performs routine laboratory tests and procedures, handles basic equipment, and may conduct limited complex analyses.

MT: Performs more complex laboratory analyses, interprets results, troubleshoots issues, and may supervise MLTs.

3. Career Advancement

MLT: Limited upward mobility; opportunities may be available to specialize or take on supervisory roles.

MT: Greater potential for advancement, including managerial roles, research positions, or specialized areas.

4. Specialization

MLT: May work in specific areas like microbiology, hematology, or clinical chemistry.

MT: Can specialize in various fields, including microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, or blood banking.

5. Work Environment

MLT: Often works under the supervision of an MT or laboratory manager.

MT: May work independently, supervising MLTs and managing laboratory operations.

6. Salary

MLT: Generally earns a lower salary compared to MTs.

MT: Tends to have a higher earning potential.

7. Job Outlook

MLT: There is a demand for MLTs, but job opportunities may be more abundant for MTs.

MT: Generally has a favorable job outlook due to the increasing demand for skilled laboratory professionals.

8. Personal Considerations

Consider your preferences, such as the level of responsibility you’re comfortable with, your interest in more in-depth analysis, and your long-term career goals.

9. Job Satisfaction

Explore both professions through internships, informational interviews, or job shadowing to get a feel for the daily responsibilities and work environment.

10. Certification

Both MLTs and MTs often need to be certified, and requirements may vary by state or country.

Ultimately, the choice between a Medical Laboratory Technician and a Medical Technologist depends on your educational preferences, career goals, and personal interests. If you are unsure, it might be beneficial to talk to professionals in both fields, gain hands-on experience, and consider your long-term career aspirations before making a decision.

Medical Laboratory Technician Diploma at BizTech College  

BizTech College offers a 31-week fast track diploma program, including clinical placements. Apart from the clinical laboratory science emphasis, students gain in-depth knowledge of hematology, microbiology, anatomical pathology and cytology, and ECG circulatory and respiratory system.   

Partnerships with local clinics provide students with the opportunity to work alongside highly qualified professionals in a fast-paced, urban setting during guaranteed clinical placements.   

Want to know if the Medical Laboratory Technician career is for you? Talk to our career planning experts, contact us.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is medical lab technology a good career?

Medical lab technology is a rewarding career that involves performing crucial diagnostic tests and analyses, contributing to patient care and healthcare outcomes.

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