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How to Become a Medical Technician

What Does a Medical Technician Do?

medical tech with test tubes

“Medical technician” is a broad term that encompasses a number of important careers in the healthcare industry. These jobs can involve tasks such as utilizing equipment that provides the latest life-saving medical treatments for patients in need. Duties may involve the utilization of diagnostic equipment to produce images that allow physicians to diagnose and effectively treat a host of ailments.

In addition to the responsibility of running medical equipment, medical technicians can also perform administrative duties that include organizing patient charts and making sure records are accurate and up to date.

Medical technicians include:

  • Cardiovascular technicians, whose duties involve performing echocardiograms, or sonograms of the hearts of patients
  • Dialysis technicians who are trained to operate dialysis equipment for people with failing kidneys
  • Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who work with the fire department or ambulance teams to care for patients needing transport to the hospital
  • Radiology and ultrasound technicians whose job is to administer x-rays, ultrasounds, CAT scans and MRIs for patients
  • Surgical technicians who are part of the surgical team and assist in preparation for the surgery, performing the surgery and caring for patients after the procedures

In addition to these positions, other medical technicians specialize in the dentistry, pharmacy or veterinary fields. With so many different specialization options, an aspiring medical technician can find a position well suited to his or her interests and abilities.

Work Environment

Due to the broad range of positions that medical technicians occupy, the work environment varies widely. Medical technicians who administer direct patient care work in doctors’ offices, hospital operating rooms, rehabilitation facilities and other healthcare settings. Those who work in hospitals enjoy the opportunity to have a flexible schedule that includes evenings, nights, weekends and on-call shifts. Medical technicians who work in clinical laboratories can be located in hospitals, physicians’ offices, private medical diagnostic labs, government agencies and blood banks.

Most medical technicians work under supervision. Those who work in laboratories do so under the supervision of medical technologists, while those who work in direct patient care do so under the supervision of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers.

Salary and Job Outlook

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$34,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$25,040$37,740$55,280
Huntsville$24,740$34,680$48,230

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$45,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $33,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $71,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$34,030$44,660$80,590
Fairbanks$35,750$51,290$60,510

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$37,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$26,440$37,290$60,560
Tuscon$27,940$37,490$71,340

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$35,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $53,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$19,030$34,350$51,420
Fort Smith$24,340$35,350$45,120

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$45,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $68,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 830

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$27,810$41,480$66,100
San Francisco Bay$38,330$55,940$74,460
San Diego$27,480$46,850$64,830
Sacramento$30,280$50,850$64,530

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$38,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 42%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$26,350$38,490$59,190
Colorado Springs$22,860$35,530$59,940

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$46,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$35,210$53,710$74,620
Bridgeport$22,950$45,000$87,750
New Haven$29,460$38,450$59,370

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$42,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $30,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$31,550$44,310$61,900

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$40,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$29,030$43,360$67,230

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$35,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 320

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$25,220$34,890$50,250
Orlando$25,700$34,530$53,690
Tampa$24,230$35,940$56,360
Jacksonville$20,440$34,160$54,230

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$34,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 250

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$26,000$36,090$60,710
Augusta$21,390$35,710$56,440

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$45,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$36,650$45,870$59,780

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$30,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$22,080$29,860$48,200

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$44,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$28,030$45,230$72,070
Rockford$32,170$47,350$68,560

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$34,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 180

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$25,690$34,620$49,990
South Bend$17,690$32,400$46,500
Fort Wayne$25,840$33,270$54,300

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$41,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $58,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$27,550$39,330$55,570
Cedar Rapids$28,720$43,060$69,700

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$36,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $52,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$27,390$38,220$50,930
Kansas City$26,050$36,150$64,160

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$39,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $56,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$26,570$39,430$59,230
Lexington$25,600$36,160$51,430

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$31,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$21,400$31,080$41,450
Baton Rouge$23,460$38,330$58,060
Lafayette$21,270$28,820$42,500

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$37,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $58,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$23,470$34,630$48,400

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$38,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $61,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 400

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$26,450$35,490$51,250
Frederick$34,540$51,380$73,450

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$40,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$30,690$39,000$59,940
Worcester$30,740$43,380$61,400
Springfield$29,720$43,190$58,970

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$32,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$24,740$32,860$55,260
Grand Rapids$25,570$29,910$41,710

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$44,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $33,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$32,510$44,250$59,200

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$34,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $50,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$21,370$35,330$52,690
Gulfport$23,300$35,970$49,710

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$32,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$24,050$34,050$60,880
Kansas City$26,050$36,150$64,160

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$39,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $66,000

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$27,550$36,600$60,250
Missoula$27,690$49,590$76,070

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$38,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $53,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$26,740$41,090$55,960
Lincoln$22,070$33,230$47,620

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$38,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$27,650$37,130$59,860

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$39,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$30,060$43,560$58,900

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$48,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $64,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$35,880$49,840$64,620
Trenton$33,810$47,860$62,720

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$38,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$27,040$37,270$54,300
Las Cruces$24,150$40,420$69,990

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$46,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $67,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 360

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$31,830$47,450$69,780
Buffalo$33,320$46,450$60,670
Rochester$23,930$34,600$49,340
Albany$26,010$38,590$52,370

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$38,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $53,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 410

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$26,320$39,590$63,050
Raleigh$28,900$40,350$56,810
Greensboro$27,480$38,660$49,630
Winston - Salem$29,360$42,600$56,200

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$40,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $53,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$31,290$37,260$51,400

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$41,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$31,290$44,170$60,710
Columbus$26,400$40,190$57,560
Cincinnati$28,480$38,670$59,630
Dayton$26,520$39,060$55,280

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$30,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$20,030$30,810$49,220
Tulsa$23,830$30,750$48,300

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$40,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$26,880$41,700$61,420
Salem$24,270$43,260$57,370

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$38,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $61,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 350

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$28,790$43,050$71,690
Pittsburgh$25,010$35,340$52,480
Harrisburg$27,160$39,220$60,150
Allentown$29,980$41,370$65,370

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$58,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$34,980$54,420$76,990

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$35,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $56,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$18,980$31,400$46,310
Columbia$20,090$36,680$60,720
Charleston$25,290$39,420$55,960

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$35,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$22,830$34,310$47,060
Rapid City$25,650$39,780$48,150

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$35,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 390

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$25,880$36,140$51,130
Memphis$25,700$39,150$55,720
Knoxville$20,080$29,990$48,400
Chattanooga$19,090$32,930$52,400

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$37,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 630

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$25,960$36,860$58,700
Houston$26,300$38,410$58,030
San Antonio$24,750$35,570$54,980
Austin$26,580$40,530$61,040

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$31,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 38%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$22,840$30,720$47,270
Ogden$20,190$32,510$65,340

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$55,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $73,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$36,520$55,520$73,950

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$37,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 180

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$24,430$37,110$52,430
Richmond$23,850$35,670$54,900

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$44,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $30,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$31,480$42,920$61,740
Spokane$26,730$47,890$63,190

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$36,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$24,610$37,120$58,100
Charleston$24,040$34,200$64,700

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$44,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $66,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$31,340$44,290$84,350
Madison$33,520$45,890$66,370

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$40,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$26,690$34,980$52,900
Casper$25,900$40,670$48,010

Medical technician salaries vary depending on the specialty, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall average annual salary for health technicians is $46,460. The BLS states that the median salary for a cardiovascular technologist is $55,570, for an EMT it is $32,670 and for a surgical technician it is $45,160.

The job outlook for medical technicians is very positive. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, job growth between 2014 and 2024 for health technicians and technologist broadly will be 16%. For cardiovascular technologists, growth is expected to be 22%. For EMTs it is predicted to be 24%, and for surgical technicians 15%. All of these growth rates are much higher than the average job growth rate; jobs in all medical technician specialties are predicted to increase to varying degrees faster than average.

Compare Salaries by City

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$41480 Per Year

$19.94 Per Hour

New York City NY Median Pay

$47450 Per Year

$22.81 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Medical Technician

1

Earn a college degree (with a few exceptions).

The type of education required depends on the field of specialty. In general, most medical technicians usually need to obtain, at the minimum, an associate degree from an accredited school. This is true for laboratory positions as well as positions in diagnostic imaging, such as ultrasound and radiologic technology. Some technician positions require a bachelor’s degree, while other positions (such as in medical records) may only technically require completing a certificate program. However, in today’s job market, technician candidates striving for any position may find their employment prospects improved by acquiring an associate degree at minimum.

The coursework varies as well depending upon the focus of the technician, but will generally be heavy on sciences, covering such subjects as biology, chemistry, anatomy, microbiology, hematology, phlebotomy, and immunology. Many training programs are offered for students just out of high school, and these students who are interested in becoming medical technicians should have high school coursework that focus on the sciences, including biology, chemistry, math and computer science.

2

Obtain (and then maintain) the necessary licensure or certification.

Most states require medical technicians to be certified/licensed. Details should be obtained through the local state board or department of health. The certification and/or licensing depend on the field of interest. Some information about certification can be obtained from the nationally and internationally recognized certification agency known as the American Medical Technologists. As part of the job, certification must be maintained and updated periodically, which varies depending on the specialty.

3

Explore ways to advance your career.

Medical technicians who pursue further training and certification can specialize in fields like the analysis of skin samples for cancer and performing vascular ultrasound. This type of specialization is one way to increase marketability in the work force as well as the rate of compensation. Certification and educational requirements vary based on the field of specialization.

Some medical technicians go on to become medical technologists by completing a four-year undergraduate program in medical technology or a related field. Others may also decide to pursue higher degrees in the sciences, such as a master’s or doctoral degree, or may even enroll in medical school. Having work experience in medical laboratories or patient care is a good stepping-stone towards an advanced career in healthcare.

Exploring Degree Paths

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

5 months-2 years

There are two kinds of medical technology certification programs.

An initial certificate program is designed for students who are new to the healthcare field. It teaches the basic technical skills needed for practice.

Depending on your location and discipline, a certificate may be necessary for state licensure. It can also make you eligible for certain credentials. Because certificate programs focus on technical skills, you may need to complete some prerequisites (for example, English and science courses) before enrolling in the program.

Some medical technician certificate programs are designed for experienced healthcare professionals who want to learn a new discipline. An example would be a registered nurse who wants to become certified as an ultrasound technician (sonographer).

Medical technician certificate programs can be found at universities, 2-year colleges, vocational-technical schools, careers schools, the Armed Forces, and even some hospitals and health systems.

When choosing a certificate program, quality matters. Some things to look for:

  • A good reputation with local employers and teaching hospitals
  • Accreditation or approval by a professional organization (for example, the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT) lists approved dialysis technician programs on its website)
  • Public and non-profit schools usually offer the best value for money

Medical technicians studying for certificates often take courses in:

Medical terminology

Study vocabulary related to disease, diagnosis, and treatment.

Clinical skills

Learn to communicate effectively, document encounters, and ensure patient safety and privacy.

Intro to medical technology

Gain a deeper understanding of your specific discipline and its role within the healthcare team.

Clinical practicum

Practice your technical skills under supervision in simulated and patient care environments.

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2-3 years

Medical technicians in some disciplines (for example, biomedical or radiology) require an associate degree for certification and licensure.

Even when an associate degree isn’t required for practice, it’s sometimes just as easy to earn as a certificate. This is especially true if you have no previous healthcare coursework or prerequisites. And, importantly, it can give you an advantage in hiring.

Another advantage of having an associate degree is that you earn real college credits, many of which can be transferred to other schools. This is especially important if you later wish to earn your bachelor’s degree.

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Associate degree programs for medical technicians are most commonly found at 2-year colleges and technical and career schools. The best programs usually have specialty-specific accreditation or approval. For example, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits surgical technician and ultrasound technician (sonography) programs. Many accreditors and professional organizations list recommended programs online.

Common courses for associate-level medical technician programs include:

Anatomy and physiology

Learn about the structure and organization of the body as well as basic functions like metabolism.

Medical equipment

Practice operating, adjusting, and maintaining the machines and software used in your discipline.

Special procedures

Try your hand at advanced procedures in your subject area (for example, fluoroscopy for radiology technicians).

Internship

Practice your skills under supervision while working in hospitals and imaging centers.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years for an initial degree

Bachelor’s degree programs for medical technicians offer training in more advanced modalities and procedures. A medical technician with a four-year degree has many career options, including leadership, management, teaching, and research. Also, many employers favor medical technician candidates with bachelor’s degrees, making it easier to land your first job.

Disciplines with bachelor’s degree options include radiology, MRI, biomedical, ultrasound, and medical laboratory technology. Medical technicians with four-year degrees are sometimes called “technologists.”

Medical technicians in bachelor’s programs usually complete 2–3 years of general education and prerequisite classes followed by 1–2 years of core medical technology classes. Coursework at this level typically covers:

Clinical quality

Learn to measure, improve, and report the safety and effectiveness of healthcare.

Research methods

Apply the scientific method to evaluate the quality of a study and the strength of its conclusions.

Leadership and professional development

Gain the skills you need to manage the work of other others and advance in your career.

Internship

Work with physicians and certified technicians to care for patients and develop your skills.

Bachelor’s degree completion programs are also available for working professionals who already hold an associate degree in medical technology.

Keys to Success as a Medical Technician

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Tech savvy and love of science

All medical technicians need to have an aptitude for and an interest in science. They must feel fully comfortable with complex and evolving technology. And these technicians must possess excellent attention to detail.

People skills

Those who work in direct patient care usually have a strong desire to help people and should exhibit emotional maturity in order to be effective. Excellent teamwork and communication skills are essential for all medical technicians as they interact with peers and supervisors such as doctors and other healthcare providers.

Lack of squeamishness

Many of these positions are not for the faint of heart.

Good and quick judgment in stressful situations

Medical technicians must be able to use good judgment to know when a patient is having problems that are beyond a technician’s capabilities and training to address. EMTs need to be able to make quick, decisive judgments in emergency situations. They should be able to function well in high-pressure environments.

Good physical health

Medical technicians should be in adequate physical shape to transport patients and perform procedures such as CPR.

Additional Certification Information

Most medical technician certifications are voluntary. However, some states require certification as a condition of licensure. For technicians some disciplines (for example, radiology technicians), certification is strongly preferred by employers, and it’s difficult to practice without it.

The following lists major medical technician certifications by discipline. To earn most of these credentials, you’ll need to fulfill education and work requirements and pass an exam.

It’s important to note that not all credentials are equally recognized by employers and licensing boards. Before pursuing certification, talk to your employer, academic advisor, or mentor to ensure you’re making a wise choice.

Dialysis technicians can be certified by the National Nephrology Certification Organization (NNCO), Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC), and the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT). The following credentials are available:

  • Basic and advanced certification – NNCO, NNCC, BONENT
  • Biomedical Nephrology Equipment Technician – NNCO, BONENT
  • Dialysis Water Specialist – NNCO

Certification of laboratory technicians is overseen by American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and The American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB). Credentials available include:

  • Medical Laboratory Technician – AMT, ASCP, AAB
  • Medical Technologist/Scientist – AMT, ASCP, AAB (for bachelor’s-trained lab technicians)
  • Clinical Laboratory Consultant (CLC) – AMT
  • Histotechnician/Histotechnologist – ASCP
  • Blood banking (BB) – ASCP
  • Chemistry (C) – ASCP, AAB
  • Cytogenetics – ASCP
  • Cytotechnologist – ASCP
  • Hematology – ASCP, AAB
  • Microbiology – ASCP, AAB
  • Molecular biology/diagnostics – ASCP, AAB
  • Pathologists’ Assistant – ASCP
  • Immunology, immunohematology – AAB
  • Andrology – AAB
  • Embryology – AAB

For operating room technicians (surgical technologists), basic certification is available from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), and the American Board of Surgical Assistants.

Several certifications for biomedical technicians are available through the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation:

  • Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET)
  • Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES)
  • Certified Radiology Equipment Specialist (CRES)
  • Certified Healthcare Technology Manager (CHTM)
  • Certified Quality System Manager (CQSM)

Ultrasound technicians (sonographers) generally hold basic certification in one or more modalities such as, cardiac, abdomen, or vascular imaging. Certifying organizations include American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). The following specialty certifications are also available:

  • Advanced Cardiac Sonographer – CCI
  • Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer – CCI
  • Registered Vascular Specialist – CCI
  • Registered Phlebology Sonographer (RPhS) – ARDMS

Radiologic technicians are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). In additional to basic certification, ARRT offers advanced credentials in:

  • Mammography
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Quality management
  • Bone densitometry
  • Cardiac interventional radiography
  • Vascular interventional radiography
  • Sonography
  • Vascular sonography
  • Breast sonography
  • Radiologist assistant

MRI technicians are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the American Registry of MRI Technologists (ARMRIT).

Mary Ziegler

Mary Ziegler received her B.A. in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She attended the University of California Los Angeles for graduate school and received a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology. Mary has over eighteen years of laboratory experience and has published fifteen journal articles. She is currently finishing her postdoctoral work at the University of California Irvine, where she studies tumor angiogenesis.

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