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Medical Laboratory Technician Licensure & Certification

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Medical laboratory technicians are crucial in diagnosing diseases, charting a treatment course, and saving countless lives daily. Their laboratory procedures and analysis make it easier for physicians and surgeons to identify what is wrong with a patient and how to treat their condition.

Thanks to the importance of their job, becoming a medical laboratory technician requires spending time obtaining the right training. From there, the next important issue is the question of certification and licensing.

Answering this question can be tricky, so we have provided below an in-depth guide containing everything you need to know about getting certified and licensed as a medical laboratory technician.

Medical Laboratory Technician Certification - What Comes Before?

Before becoming certified as a medical laboratory technician, you must have some education in the field regardless of which certification body you choose.

As we’ll see below, the educational requirements vary from one certification body to another. Still, a common denominator is to either possess an associate’s degree from an accredited medical laboratory technician program or obtain a certain level of training from a civilian or military vocational institution.

Possessing a high school diploma or GED is also a must.

Is Certification Necessary?

It may be surprising to learn that despite the sheer number of MLTs who choose to get certified, certification is optional for medical laboratory technicians in most states. Most people choose to do it anyway because even though the state does not necessitate it, there are still a lot of benefits to be gotten from it. For instance, most employers tend to go for MLTs who are certified over those who are not because certification shows a certain level of proficiency and dedication to the job.

Certification and certification bodies also offer significant help in terms of seminars, resources, and continuing education, among others.

Becoming Certified

Having established why you need to get certified as an MLT and what general prerequisites are needed, it is worth mentioning that on your journey to becoming certified, you will come across a few alternatives regarding which certification bodies to go with.

We list the most popular of these options below.

American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

The ASCP is one of the leading certification organizations for medical laboratory technicians nationwide. Certification through this route involves meeting the eligibility requirements and then sitting for the MLT ASCP examination, which deals with subjects such as blood bank, urinalysis, chemistry, hematology, immunology, and microbiology.

ASCP Certification Requirements

To become certified by the ASCP as a US citizen, you must possess three years of experience, an associate’s degree, or 50 weeks of vocational training.

US citizens must pay an examination application fee of $215.

As an international applicant, you must possess a two-year diploma in medical lab science from an accredited institution or a two-year diploma in biological science and chemistry and complete qualifying medical lab science programs.

International applicants must pay an examination application fee of $175.

American Medical Technologists (AMT)

Employers often take certification by AMT as a sign of skill and quality. This certification is available to medical assistants, dental assistants, molecular diagnostics technologists, and other allied healthcare professionals, including medical laboratory technicians. The AMT exams for MLTs examine crucial aspects of the field, such as hematology, immunohematology, and serology.

Students must complete the exam in three hours.

ASCP Certification Requirements

ASCP certification is quite straightforward. First, it requires all candidates who wish to become certified to have already graduated from a college or university with an associate’s degree in MLT or an equivalent field.

Additionally, a 50-week training program from the US military is also acceptable.

Students must apply for the online examination and pay $200.

American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB)

The AAB is another one of the more popular certification bodies for medical laboratory technicians. Like the above, AAB certification is not mandatory, but it demonstrates proficiency and dedication to improvement and continuing education.

AAB Certification Requirements

The AAB certification process is also quite similar to the ones highlighted above. To become AAB certified, candidates must pass a generalized exam. The exam requirements stipulate that candidates must have an associate’s degree from an accredited MLT program or 50 weeks of training from a vocational training program.

Medical Laboratory Technician Licensing - What Comes Before?

Different states have different requirements for licensing. Generally, however, to become licensed as a medical laboratory technician, you must have obtained appropriate training from an accredited program/institution.

Usually, most states will work hand in hand with certification bodies to facilitate licensing.

As we’ll see below, licensing itself is not a law in more than 30 states. Still, there are a handful of states wherein medical laboratory technicians can only practice legally with a license.

Is Licensing Necessary?

Only 11 states and one territory require MLTs to become licensed before they can practice. These include Nevada, New York, Montana, Tennessee, West Virginia, California, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island.

While Georgia does not have mandatory licensure laws, it does have some stringent requirements that supersede even the standards outlined by the ASCP.

Obtaining an MLT License

In California, medical laboratory technicians must visit the official licensing page to begin their journey toward getting licensed. The license allows MLTs to perform clinical lab tests “of moderate complexity,” report test results, and perform phlebotomy.

An associate’s degree or military vocational training experience is required as well.

The state medical laboratory technician department authorizes the AAB and ASCP to facilitate licensing. After passing either of these exams, candidates must also complete the online state quiz on state laboratory laws and regulations.

Licenses must be renewed every other year with evidence of continuing education and fee payment.

Other states tend to follow a similar approach to the one above. Still, again, you must visit the appropriate official website belonging to the state department wherein you wish to secure employment as a medical laboratory technician.