The Difference Between Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Clinical Laboratory Technicians


May 22nd, 2009

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are commonly referred to as the same type of worker, and while they do have similar names and tend to work in the same places, the two jobs are different.  Both technologists and technicians play a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and illnesses, but there is a difference in the work that is done by clinical laboratory technologists and clinical laboratory technicians. All clinical laboratory personnel examine and analyze body fluids and cells.  Generally, technologists perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians do.

Both technologists and technicians analyze chemical and hazardous content of fluids, match blood types for transfusions, test drug levels in blood, and look for bacteria, parasites, and microorganisms in their samples.  Technologists are responsible for preparing specimens for tests and looking for abnormal cells in blood and body fluids using complex laboratory equipment, microscopes, and cell counters. Technologists analyze the results of the tests they are responsible for and relay the results to physicians.  Technologists perform complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, and bacteriological examinations and ensure the accuracy of tests by modifying procedures and programs. Technicians prepare specimen for testing and operate automated machinery to perform tests or perform tests under detailed instructions and/or supervision of technologists, pathologists, or other personnel.

Both technologists and technicians work in medial or clinical laboratories and can be found in hospitals, clinics, universities, and private laboratories.  However, training and salaries can vary greatly between clinical lab technologists and technicians.  Technologists generally require a 4 year bachelor degree in medical technology or a closely related field, while technicians usually only need an associate degree or certificate.  Additionally, the median annual salary of a lab technologist in 2008 was $53,500, compared to the technicians median annual salary of $35,380, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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