How do I Become a Medical Technologist? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A medical technologist placing a test tube in a centrifuge in a lab.
A medical technologist placing a test tube in a centrifuge in a lab.

In order to become a medical technologist, it is necessary to attend a training program which offers certification for medical technologists. Such programs are available from some colleges, universities, trade schools, and hospitals. Being certified as a medical technologist can provide someone with numerous career opportunities, as new workers in the field of healthcare are generally in high demand, especially in industrialized countries where medical care relies on a team of care providers who all have unique skill sets and abilities.

Technologists specialize in particular areas.
Technologists specialize in particular areas.

A medical technologist training program usually lasts for four years. During the course of the program, students learn about health care, specific issues pertaining to human health, and lab protocols. A medical technologist can qualify as a generalist who can work in most lab environments handling specimens, preparing slides, conducting tests, and so forth, or he or she can opt for specialization in a particular area of interest, which will allow the medical technologist to work in specialized labs and clinics.

A medical technologist may find work at a university research laboratory.
A medical technologist may find work at a university research laboratory.

To become a medical technologist, it helps to have taken some math and science courses in high school, and to have received high grades in these subjects. Individual training programs require a variety of things on their applications, and they may ask for letters of recommendation and test scores from someone who wants to become a medical technologist. This supporting information is designed to show that someone is motivated and has the skills to succeed in the program.

When someone decides to become a medical technologist through a training program at a school, advisors will usually provide the student with information about which classes he or she needs to take. Anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry are common requirements, along with courses in medical technology, lab protocol, and related topics. A school may also ask patients to train in healthcare billing so that prospective medical technologists can acquire a knowledge of how billing systems work and how to properly write up paperwork. Certification through a hospital is done with on the job training.

After someone has received a bachelor's degree in medical technology, he or she may need to take a certification exam to become a medical technologist, depending on regional laws. In areas where exams are not required, students can opt to take them to demonstrate proficiency and join a professional organization. Membership in such an organization can make someone more employable, as it indicates that he or she has met a minimum standard, and is committed to continuing education.

To become a medical technologist who can work within a specialty, it may be necessary to take additional coursework at the graduate level, to opt for electives during undergraduate training to acquire the necessary skills, or to intern or work at a clinic which provides specialty services to get work experience.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • A medical technologist placing a test tube in a centrifuge in a lab.
      A medical technologist placing a test tube in a centrifuge in a lab.
    • Technologists specialize in particular areas.
      Technologists specialize in particular areas.
    • A medical technologist may find work at a university research laboratory.
      A medical technologist may find work at a university research laboratory.