Job Skills and Experience
Lab technicians need to be flexible. Jobs in the field can come with varied work hours and techs may need to be on-call to come in on short notice. Lab technicians also need skills such as sound judgment, analytical thinking and calm nerves, as their jobs can include the pressure that can accompany potentially life-saving or life-altering discoveries.
Although this is not a strict requirement, many lab technicians gain experience in the field before applying for jobs. Some degree programs offer students the chance to engage in clinical internships with local laboratories. Other students may take part in an apprenticeship or extended training program with the understanding that they will be hired after a particular period of time. Gaining entry-level employment in a non-technician area in a clinical setting may also prove beneficial.
Depending on the state in which a lab technician works, licensing may be necessary. Organizations such as the ASCP offer an official certification process for laboratory personnel. Certification generally involves having a certain amount of experience, often a year or more in the field, and passing a comprehensive examination. In states that don't require certification, lab technicians often obtain voluntary certification due to employer requests and the professional benefits that may come with being certified.