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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Medical Laboratory Technology

Majors Overview February 22, 2014

Receive information about an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in medical laboratory technology and its education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

A.A. Programs in Medical Laboratory Technology

Students enrolled in an associate’s degree program in medical laboratory technology are helped to hone the skills necessary to becoming medical laboratory technicians. The responsibilities of a medical laboratory technician require the individual to collect biological specimens, conduct tests, analyze test results and develop other test procedures.

Students spend the first year of the 2-year program in classroom learning of rudimentary concepts; during the second year, they are imparted laboratory and clinical education. Schools may offer this program in a variety of associate’s degree formats, such as Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. While there is no typical prerequisite coursework, biology and chemistry credits may be required by candidates before they can gain admittance to the program. They may also have to submit to a criminal background check.

Coursework

Apart from classroom instruction, lab studies and clinical internships are also included in the coursework some of which may also be offered via distance learning. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Immunohematology
•Computer information systems
•Laboratory medicine
•Microbiology
•Urinalysis and coagulation
•Cultural diversity in healthcare

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 22% has been predicted for medical and clinical laboratory technicians during the period from 2012 to 2022 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The optimistic projection is based on an assumption that growth in the field will result from an increase in population and development of new test methods. In 2012, medical and clinical laboratory technicians took home an average annual wage of $47,820 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Those who graduate with an associate’s degree may want to join the workforce immediately on completion of the program through entry-level occupations as medical laboratory technicians; they may alternatively pursue continued education and earn bachelor’s degrees. Professional certification added to an advanced degree in medical technology can help an individual seek leadership or technologist positions.

Voluntary certification is often sought by medical laboratory technicians after they graduate. Certification enables them to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to potential employers thereby enhancing their job prospects.

The American Association of Bioanalysts (ABB), the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) are among the agencies that offer certified credentials. While certification norms vary from agency to agency, passage of a written agency is a common requirement of most certification programs. In some states, lab personnel are also required to obtain licensure.

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