If you have a scientific mind, enjoy working independently and problem-solving then a career as a Medical Laboratory Technician could be for you.
A Medical Laboratory Technician is responsible for conducting standard medical lab tests and interpreting the results. This line of work involves significant analysis and working with other health care professionals to solve medical problems. In addition to this, a Medical Laboratory Technician is also responsible for ensuring the lab equipment is functional and maintained as well as evaluate new laboratory methods and test out new lab equipment. Lab Technicians will also do phlebotomy work which involves the preperation and collection of patient samples such as blood, urine and stool.
Essentially, a Medical Laboratory Technician needs to be able to perform testing and quality control checks, adhere to patient confidentiality protocols, recognise abnormalities that could negatively affect patient test results and communicate this.
You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:
- Pure Mathematics
- Physical Science
- Life Sciences
The following institutions are highly recommended for studies in Science:
- University of Cape Town (UCT) – FPS of 660 for guarunteed entrance
- University of Witwatersrand (Wits) – APS of 40+
In order to qualify as a Medical Laboratory Technician, you will need to have a formal qualification. It is best to firstly get an undergraduate degree – generally, a Bachelor of Science is the best suited qualification. This is usually a three year degree. From there, it is recommended you complete some form of post-graduate studies. Honours in Microbiology is one of the most common post-graduate routes. This should only take a year to complete.
You will need to have the following skills to succeed as a Medical Laboratory Technician:
- interpersonal skills
- leadership skills
- physical ability to be on your feet most of the day
As a Medical Laboratory Technician, you will be working in a laboratory. This could be in a hospital, medical centre or clinic in the public or private sector.
In general, your working hours will revolve around shifts which can be day or night. You can also expect to work overtime periodically. This is due to the nature of the environments in which Medical Laboratory Technicians work in i.e. hopitals are staffed 24/7.
As a Medical Laboratory Technician, you can expect to earn an annual salary of R176 635 according to the average South African Medical Laboratory Technician salary.
Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Medical Laboratory Technician:
- possible long working hours spent on your feet
- you will need to transport various samples and equipment from one location to another
- you may need to troubleshoot problematic equipment
- you will always need to follow health and safety regulations when collecting patient specimans
- you might need to supervise labortory assistants