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Medical Lab Technician Certification & Licensure Guide

Lindsey Gram, RN
April 18, 2024
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Lab technicians perform vital functions to ensure blood tests and other labwork are handled, processed, and completed in a safe and precise manner. These lab tests lay the foundation for a vast range of diagnosis, treatment, and research. There are over 300,000 clinical laboratories in the United States, and lab technicians are needed in each one! The term lab technician is often shortened to lab tech. 

If you are interested in a career as a lab technician, medical lab tech certification and licensure need to be on your mind. Certification helps you make the most out of your lab science career, and is often a requirement for many roles. Licensure may be required in the state you choose to work, and we’ll tell you which ones in our state-by-state guide below.

Before we get into the licensure details, let’s talk about the benefits of medical lab technician certification. We’ll walk you through the certification process and provide valuable information you will need to start your rewarding career as a lab tech.

Why Certification Matters for Laboratory Technicians

Certification distinguishes you as an expert in your field. By holding professional certification, you let other lab techs, employers, and healthcare providers know you have taken additional steps to further your knowledge and growth in laboratory science. 

Advantages of Being a Certified Medical Lab Tech

Who wouldn’t want to make the most of their career as a lab tech? In addition to the above benefits, certification also leads to opportunities for increased pay, expanded career opportunities, and the ability to move into leadership roles. 

Certification can be a requirement for many lab technician jobs, but is not a requirement for all. If you want to explore the many benefits of being an allied health traveler, lab tech certification is required to travel with Trusted Health.  

General Requirements to Become a Lab Tech

To become a lab tech, you must start with a high school diploma or equivalent. Once you’ve met that requirement, here are your next steps: 

  • Complete a lab technician associate degree or certificate from a NAACLS-accredited program (National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences). A degree or certificate is adequate for many entry-level lab tech jobs. 
  • If you are interested in advancing your career or moving into leadership roles, an associate degree will likely be a better choice than a certificate. A degree will prepare you for expanded career options.  
  • Research the requirements for the lab tech positions that interest you. If certification or licensure is required, obtain them or begin the process before applying. 
  • Once you complete your degree or certificate and obtain the required certification and/or licensure, you can apply for lab tech jobs!

It is important to remember that there is a difference between a lab technician and lab technologist. These two professions have different educational requirements and are eligible for different professional certifications. A lab technician role requires less education to get started and is often supervised by a lab technologist. 

General Requirements for Becoming a Lab Tech that are not State-Specific

No matter where you want to work as a lab technician, a high school diploma or equivalent and an associate degree or certificate in this field are required. You will receive both in-class and hands-on lab training during your education, preparing you to work in this field. A Basic Life Support (BLS) CPR class and blood-borne pathogen training are also needed. 

What Certifications Do You Need for a Lab Technician?

Certification is a requirement for many, but not all, lab tech jobs. Despite not being a requirement for all jobs, it is an excellent step to take towards a remarkable and rewarding career. 

If you choose to travel with Trusted, an ASCP or AMT certification is required. The ASCP is considered the gold standard for medical lab technician certification.  

What is the MLT ASCP Certification?

The Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) certification is offered through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). 

  • The ASCP MLT exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. You have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the exam. 
  • There is no set number of correct questions needed to pass. Passing depends on the tester’s ability to correctly answer a certain percentage of questions at a set difficulty level. 
  • The exam fee is $225 and is non-refundable.
  • The ASCP MLT credential must be renewed every three years, or it will expire.

What is the MLT AMT Certification?

The Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) certification is offered through the American Medical Technologists (AMT). 

  • The AMT MLT certification exam consists of 200-230 multiple-choice questions. You have 3 hours to complete the exam. 
  • Similar to the ASCP exam, passing depends on the tester’s ability to answer a certain percentage of questions correctly at a set difficulty level.
  • The exam fee is $225 and is non-refundable. 
  • The MLT MLT credential must be renewed every three years before expiration. 

Lab Tech Licensure Requirements by State

There are currently 11 states with a laboratory personnel licensure requirement. These states are listed below in our state-by-state licensure guide. Each state’s pathway toward licensure has slightly different requirements, which can include varying education, certification, application, and licensure fees. Always reference each state’s licensure website for the most current licensure information. 

License-Required States and Their Guidelines

  • Hawaii 
    • Temporary/Limited Permit: No/No
    • Initial Licensing Fee: $65
    • Renewal: $25, every two years during odd-numbered years
    • More Information: HI Department of Health
  • Louisiana
    • Temporary/Limited Permit: Yes/No
    • Initial Licensing Fee: $65
    • Renewal: Visit  website for further details. 
    • More Information: LA Board of Medical Examiners
  • North Dakota 
    • Temporary/Limited Permit: No/No
    • Initial Licensing Fee: $20-$100, varies based on if issued in even or odd-numbered years. See fee schedule on website.
    • Renewal: Every two years, in even-numbered years. 
    • More Information: ND Board of Clinical Laboratory Practice
  • Tennessee
    • Temporary/Limited Permit: Yes/Yes
    • Initial Licensing Fee: $60
    • Renewal: Every two years, on the licensee’s birthday.
    • More Information: TN Department of Health
  • West Virginia
    • Temporary/Limited Permit: No/No
    • Initial Licensing Fee: $25
    • Renewal: $25, annually
    • More Information: WV Department of Health

What Comes Next After Lab Tech Certification?

Be sure to celebrate once you obtain your lab medical lab tech certification! You have put in a lot of work to reach this tremendous step in your lab technician career, and you should be proud of your hard work. Don’t forget to renew your credential within three years before it expires!

Continue to sharpen your skills, seek out new opportunities, and grow as a professional during your career as a lab technician. Don’t forget- lab technicians are in demand and needed everywhere! You have many outstanding opportunities to take your career on the road as a Trusted Health traveler. 

Find a Lab Tech Job with Trusted Health

At Trusted, we are proud to provide our traveling healthcare professionals with impressive pay packages, competitive benefits, and unparalleled clinical support. Start your journey as a travel lab technician through Trusted Health today!

Browse travel lab technician jobs with Trusted Health! 

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