How To Get a Medical Technician Certification in 6 Steps
Updated April 10, 2023
Many people who want to work in the health care industry become medical technicians, as this role has fewer barriers to entry than other medical roles.
The certification for this career has requirements such as completing certain educational programs and obtaining on-the-job training. Earning your certification helps you improve your job opportunities by assuring employers of your skills and helping you qualify for state licensure.
In this article, we discuss the medical technician role, explain how to get your certification and provide expert tips to help you start your career.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
What is a medical technician?
A medical technician is a health care employee who uses their expertise to support physicians, surgeons and nurses in developing and implementing appropriate treatment plans for each patient.
Medical technicians help diagnose and treat various conditions and may work in different health care establishments. In large hospitals, they typically work in clinics or laboratories.
Many hospitals employ several medical technicians who perform specialized roles depending on their areas of expertise. For example, hematology technicians specialize in drawing blood, while diagnostic technicians specialize in sonography. Additionally, medical technicians:
Communicate their findings to other health care staff.
Maintain medical records.
Inform patients about the clinical procedures that they're about to undergo.
Adhere to regulations regarding the handling and disposal of body fluids.
Related: How To Become a Medical Technician
What is a medical technician certification?
A medical technician certification is a credential that proves you meet the minimum education, training and clinical experience requirements for this role. Certification may demonstrate your ability to draw blood, prepare specimens, administer clinical laboratory tests, monitor vital signs, oversee patient treatment plans and support physicians.
Medical technician certifications assure employers of your abilities and may even help you meet requirements for licensure in certain states.
You can obtain various medical technician certifications depending on the specialty of your choice. Examples of available credentials include:
How to get a medical technician certification
Here's how to get a medical technician certification:
1. Research eligibility requirements
Consider researching eligibility requirements for medical technician certification programs, as they may vary across states. Examples of standard requirements include:
Be able to speak, read and write English proficiently.
Be at least 18 years old.
Be a United States citizen or legal resident.
Have your high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) diploma.
Pass a criminal background check.
You can determine the requirements by visiting state government websites or contacting a medical technician licensing board. Many states require a two-year associate degree or the equivalent of one year of full-time study at an accredited university or community college.
Some certifications may even require bachelor's degrees in medical technology or another related field, completion of a training program in medical technology and at least one year of clinical experience under the supervision of a medical technologist.
2. Complete your education
Next, consider obtaining a degree or certificate from a program that meets the educational requirements of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Educational programs vary in length, depending on the institution and the specializations they offer.
Many programs take students about 18 months to two years to complete. You might complete an associate degree program for medical lab technicians or certificate programs in specializations like phlebotomy or medical imaging. A student can also complete a bachelor's degree in medical technology or another related field.
3. Complete on-the-job training
After you receive your degree or certificate, some states require you to complete a period of supervised on-the-job training before you receive your certification. This training program may last a few weeks or up to a year after you complete your education.
For example, the American Society for Clinical Pathology offers an on-the-job training program for medical lab technicians.
4. Prepare for the certification exam
After obtaining relevant education, you can consider preparing for the certification exam by reviewing the study materials, taking a review course and attempting practice exams.
An advantage of taking a review course includes receiving the relevant study material and additional practice exams before taking the certification exam. You may attend a review course an external service provides or one American Medical Technologists offers.
5. Pass the exam
The last step in getting your initial medical technician certification involves completing an application and taking the certification exam. When taking the medical technician certification exam, try to read each question carefully and determine the best answer.
If you're uncertain of the answer, consider leaving the question empty and attempting the next question. After passing the exam, you can apply for medical technician jobs at clinics, laboratories and hospitals.
6. Keep your certification current
Certified medical technicians may remain in good standing by completing continuing education courses. For example, you might take courses in hematology, infection control, pharmacology, surgical techniques, medical terminology, medical billing and coding or ethics.
States may also require you to complete a specific number of course hours relevant to the health care industry, such as patient safety, infection control and medical-legal issues or lab-related programs.
If you have an American Medical Technologists Certification, you can maintain your certification by paying annual membership dues and completing the Certification Continuation Program.
Tips for getting a medical technician certification
Here's a list of tips that may help you during the medical technician certification process:
Seek advice. Consider asking medical facility personnel such as nurses, physicians or program directors for advice regarding the various steps in the certification process. These clinical employees may provide valuable information about the ideal training courses, educational programs and job opportunities.
Create a clear plan. Before beginning a certification program, create a detailed plan for your education and career path. A clear plan can help you choose an educational and training program that aligns with your career goals and interests.
Examine the job market. Consider examining the job market in your region or area of specialization. For example, you can consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics for information on employment, salary and job growth.
Determine costs. Once you decide on an educational and training program, consider determining the financial aspects of obtaining certification. Individuals may seek educational funds from various resources, including federal and local governments, clinics and hospitals.
Select classes carefully. When selecting an educational program for this certification, choose classes that align with your preferences and work schedule. You may also want to choose a program that covers the specific job skills you plan to use throughout your career.
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