Medical Laboratory Technician: Graduate Area of Work

A laboratory technician conducts tests and performs analyses for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

Medical lab technicians work primarily in a science research lab. They play an important role in producing reliable and accurate data to support scientific investigations by performing tests and trials.

Working under the supervision of a medical technologist or a physician, lab technicians perform tests to help diagnose and treat diseases. Graduates working in this line of work are typically employed by hospitals, clinics, private laboratories, research and development organisations or pharmaceutical companies.

Career overview

The role of a lab technician is vital in the medical healthcare industry as they conduct screenings on almost everything and anything, from throat swabs to cancer test results. Daily duties of a lab technician include the following:

  • Analysing body fluids or tissues to detect abnormalities or diseases
  • Conducting blood tests and performing blood counts
  • Examining cells and cultures for abnormalities
  • Setting up, calibrating, maintaining and cleaning medical laboratory equipment
  • Testing the sterility of equipment
  • Analysing results of tests
  • Recording test data
  • Working with pathologists when abnormalities are found

Graduates will also find flexibility in their career as a medical lab technician. As lab technicians are employed in most areas of science, they can choose to move between medical research and diagnostics, to manufacturing, to drug trials, and even to education.

Alternatively, if graduates in this area of work want to progress within the very lab they work in, they can move up the career ladder by progressing from assistant technician to technician, to senior/lead technician, to leader technician, and finally to laboratory manager.

Required skills

Graduates usually enter this profession with a biomedical science or life sciences degree. The detailed nature of a lab technician’s role calls for specific skills and competencies amongst graduates looking to enter this area of work.

Aside from formal qualifications, employers seek candidates with the following skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Investigative skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to maintain and calibrate technical equipment

Pros and cons

Depending on what your tasks entail, you may have to work irregular hours. Moreover, you will quite likely work with bio-hazardous and infectious material. Thus, you are required to wear the necessary protective gear and exercise precautions to avoid risks.

Much of your work as a medical lab technician is done without any contact with patients. This may be a pro or a con depending on your personality and expectations. If you are someone who would like to meet a patient or need closure of knowing a patient’s outcome based on the lab results you have helped diagnosed, this may not be the job for you.

However, graduates can look forward to making a significant impact on people’s lives, as a person’s life can depend on the precision and accuracy of your work as a lab technician.