Do you enjoy science and have attention to detail? If so, consider pursuing a career as a Medical Lab Technician.
Medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform routine diagnostic tests to examine tissues, body fluids, and other substances. They also use medical lab equipment under the direction of pathologists and medical laboratory scientists.
To work as a Medical Laboratory Technician in Australia, you need a formal University or VET qualification in laboratory technology, laboratory skills, or laboratory techniques. Joining industry bodies like the Australian Institute of Medical Scientists is beneficial.
This blog will help you understand the lab technician role, skills and qualification requirements, courses, degrees, career prospects, salary, and steps to becoming a medical laboratory technician in Australia.
1. What Is A Medical Laboratory Technician?
Medical Laboratory Technicians perform routine lab tests and other procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in people to provide information about future prevention.
They are responsible for maintaining lab tools and equipment, recording data, preparing experiments, and inspecting, calibrating, and maintaining test equipment.
Laboratory Technicians work in many settings in the healthcare sector, such as medical labs, school science labs, scientific research and development, pharmacology, and manufacturing companies.
2. Duties Of A Medical Laboratory Technician
The specific duties of medical laboratory technicians depend on the industry and the type of work they carry out.
In general, they perform the following tasks and duties:
Answer, screen, and forward telephone calls
Greet walk-in customers and guide them to specific destinations
Gather and prepare samples and equipment for experiments and tests
Analyse samples for composition, irregularities, and consistency
Perform diagnostic tests on fluids and tissues and examine the chemical constituents of urine, blood, faeces, and tissues.
Look for the presence of antibodies in samples to identify bodily ailments.
Sets up and maintains anaesthetic workstations, operating theatres, and life support machines
Conduct and supervise experiments
Record precise results and maintain documents
Calculate, organise, and present results in written and graphic formats, such as charts, sketches, diagrams, reports, and maps.
Create reports based on experiments and other laboratory-based activities
Clean and maintain the lab and equipment.
Oversee junior lab workers and assist other medical professionals
Check the stock, place orders for supplies, and perform inspections.
Refer medical prescriptions to chemists and help in preparing medications
Advise healthcare professionals based on the test results and offer recommendations for diagnosis and treatment
Maintain lab equipment and conduct minor repair work as required
Operate lab tools and equipment like microscopes to test and assess samples
Follow standard health and safety regulations while obtaining patient samples.
Assist anaesthetists and surgical teams and medical analytical procedures
Teach science and related subjects to school or university students
3. Desired Skills For A Medical Laboratory Technician
Here are the skills that you need to work in this role:
Interested in science
Good understanding of cells and tissues, chemical compositions, and their interactions
Able to work with precision and minimal supervision
Able to do repetitive work with concentration
Able to multitask effectively
Good hand-eye coordination
Good interpersonal skills
Strong leadership skills
Excellent numeracy skills
High-level communication skills
Able to work effectively as a team
4. Laboratory Technician Qualifications In Australia
Do you want to know what to study to qualify for this role? There are two pathways to becoming a Laboratory Technician in Australia. Complete a tertiary-level qualification or a traineeship to work as a Medical Laboratory Technician in Australia.
Consider earning a postgraduate qualification to specialise in a specific niche within the field.
Gain work experience, advance your education and specialise in a specific area within the field that interests you.
You may also need a Working With Children's Check if you plan to work with children below the age of 18 years.
5. Steps To Become A Medical Laboratory Technician In Australia
You will need a formal qualification to find employment as a Lab Technician in Australia. Here are the steps to follow to get started in this profession:
Step 1: Obtain Your Senior Secondary Education Certificate
Complete your high school education in pre-requisite subjects such as English, chemistry, biology, and advanced mathematics.
Step 2: Complete VET/Degree qualification
Complete any of the below VET qualifications to develop the basic to advanced-level knowledge and skillset to pursue this role.
Certificate III in Laboratory Skills
Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques
Diploma of Laboratory Technology
Alternatively, you can complete a bachelor of medical laboratory science in Australia. Some of the good options are:
Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Laboratory Medicine) Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (Honours)
Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science
As a trainee, you can network with other industry people and demonstrate your abilities. It improves your chances of getting a job fast.
Step 3: Build Work Experience
Look for placement programs or internships within government, private firms, and local medical, science, or technology councils to gain specialised in-lab experience.
Step 4: Obtain Professional Membership
In addition to getting qualified, some employers require candidates to be members of industry bodies such as the Australian Institute of Medical Scientists, the Australian Society for Microbiology, or the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.
Thus, graduates from accredited courses should also apply for professional membership with these industry bodies to improve their career prospects.
6. Medical Laboratory Technician Courses In Australia
Are you looking for a hands-on course that makes you job-ready?
Certificate III in Laboratory Skills
This nationally recognised accredited course offers entry-level training to students in laboratory operations across various industries.
It helps develop the skills to collect and prepare samples, handle chemicals, operate basic laboratory computing programs and equipment, follow procedures, and perform laboratory duties.
The course also provides accredited workplace training to applicants already working in this field.
Chemical process operators
Sampler and Tester
Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques
The course teaches how to solve important practical issues, including disease control and environmental safety. Chemistry, microbiology, food testing, data management, communication, and histology testing.
Students gain hands-on experience using cutting-edge equipment and develop the required knowledge and skills to:
Detect changes in tissues and cell structures
Analyse environmental, pathology, and chemical samples
help perform research into genetic and biochemical processes.
Besides the technical skills, students also learn to apply WHS, quality and sustainability skills to the workplace.
After course completion, students can work as lab technicians and instrument operators in vaccine production, pathology, food and materials testing, or research. Alternatively, they can pursue the Diploma in Laboratory Technology or advanced studies of their interest.
Diploma of Laboratory Technology
Do you want to broaden your knowledge and gain complex skills in laboratory science? The diploma course helps develop the basics of scientific knowledge and build more hands-on laboratory experience and practical skills.
Students will learn to use lab application software, organise and conduct lab/fieldwork, and provide customer information.
Students will conduct tests for pathologists, clinical chemists, biochemists, veterinarians, microbiologists, pharmacologists, and bacteriologists. They will provide tech support to scientists in research, testing, and production roles.
With this qualification, you can work in research centres, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, commercial laboratories, private pathology laboratories, and government departments.
The course paves the path to specialise in various industries, including construction materials, chemicals, forensics, environmental monitoring, pathology, medical, food and wine, mining, biological, and minerals.
7. How Long Does It Take To Become An MLT In Australia?
The qualification needed to become a Medical Laboratory technician in Australia is earning a 3-4 years AIMS accredited degree in laboratory medicine or medical laboratory science.
Alternatively, you can complete a 2-year (Cert IV + Diploma qualification) to develop basic knowledge and practical skills in laboratory science.
Graduates from accredited courses need to gain membership in AIMS to work as medical laboratory technicians in Australia.
8. AIMS Assessment Process For MLTS (Seeking Migration)
The Australian Institute of Medical and Clinical Scientists is the assessing authority for the Medical Laboratory Scientist ANZSCO and medical laboratory technician ANZSCO occupation.
Here is the medical laboratory technician skill assessment that migrants need to follow to work as Medical Laboratory Technicians in Australia:
Applicants eligible for the AIMS Medical Scientist Professional Examination will receive an Invitation Letter and Application Form.
9. Working Conditions For A Medical Laboratory Technician
Medical laboratory technicians often work in teams with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, laboratory assistants, pathologists, and lab scientists. They usually work under the supervision of medical laboratory managers or laboratory technologists.
In small laboratories, MLTs perform several types of tests independently. In contrast, they work in groups in large laboratories and perform specialised tests.
When employed full-time, they generally work standard business hours, Monday to Friday. However, they may work beyond normal hours if they do tests that need regular supervision.
MLTs usually work in hospitals, pathology, or diagnostic laboratories performing standard medical lab tests to diagnose an illness, record normal findings, and interpret the patient outcome.
The job involves handling dangerous chemicals and substances, so they must wear protective clothing.
10. Employment Opportunities For Medical Laboratory Technicians
Medical laboratory technicians work in the following settings:
Public general medical and surgical hospital
Physicians' offices or Clinics
Private medical pathology and diagnostic laboratories
Government authorities such as Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Agricultural departments
11. Areas Of Specialisation
Medical laboratory technicians who have several years of experience and expertise can consider specialising in the following areas:
Medical Laboratory Technician
Clinical Chemistry (Biochemistry)
12. Job Prospects For Medical Laboratory Technicians In Australia
Key factors that contribute to the rapid growth of healthcare professions, including medical labs, are:
Increasing ageing population that needs diagnostic testing
Advancements in the healthcare sector, including biotechnology
Development of new lab tests and technologies
Increased government funding for healthcare
The rising desire among future parents for complex prenatal testing
Future job growth depends on the demand for medical tests and technological advances enhancing the quality, scope, and quantity of information received from laboratory tests.
With a growth rate much higher than the national average for all occupations, the profession will likely generate good employment opportunities for the foreseeable future.
A moderate number of positions in this fast-growing field will arise from the expansion and replacement of retired employees.
Presently, 62% of employees work full-time in this profession which shows fewer part-time opportunities. Full-time workers work for an average of 43 hours a week at work.
Most Lab technicians work in industries related to Manufacturing, Education and training, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Professional, Scientific, and technical services.
New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia are the states that present many employment opportunities for MLTs. The average age of the employed workforce in this profession is 39 years, and around 74% of workers are female.
13. How Much Does A Medical Laboratory Technician Earn In Australia?
The salary of an MLT can vary widely based on several factors, including certifications, education, skillset, the number of years spent in the profession, industries, role, and work location.
The average hourly medical laboratory technician salary in Australia is AU$25.92, equivalent to AU$56,815 per year.
Here is what you can expect to earn at varying stages of your career:
Entry-level MLT (<1-year experience): AU$24.78 per hour
Early career MLT (1 to 4 years of experience): AU$25.62 per hour
Mid-career MLT (5 to 9 years of experience): AU$27.17 per hour
Experienced MLT with (10 to 19 years of experience): AU$28.97
Laboratory Technicians working in the following Australian cities earn relatively higher than the rest:
Bunbury, WA: $77,223 per year
Brisbane QLD: $76,418 per year
Canberra ACT: $70,293 per year
Joondalup WA: $68,953 per year
Dubbo NSW: $68,203 per year
Townsville QLD: $66,121 per year
Sydney NSW: $65,353 per year
Perth WA: $64,661 per year
Being a medical laboratory technician is a highly valued and rewarding profession.
Working in this role, you play an integral role in the care of patients through testing and analysis and creating a safer environment.
Completing laboratory technician courses are great ways to prepare for a future in health and seize opportunities for professional development.
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