Hottest Medical Technology Careers for Introverts in 2021
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The twin industries of healthcare and medical technology are among the fastest-growing in the United States. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) reported that eight of the top 10 fields with the highest projected employment growth between 2019 and 2029 were all related to health and medical services. Furthermore, medical technology professions are among the most lucrative compared to occupations requiring similar education levels. In short, the employment opportunities and salary prospects in the medtech industry look bright into the future.
That said, some aspiring medtech professionals may prefer work that doesn’t require as much human interaction. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an introvert is ‘one whose personality is concerned with introversion; broadly: a reserved or shy person.’ Lucky for introverts, there are opportunities in medtech subfields requiring little interaction with others and virtually no patient-facing job duties.
There are four medtech careers in particular that may be ideal for introverts in 2021, which meet the following criteria:
- Socially independent profession (i.e., lack of patient-facing responsibilities)
- Relatively high salaries (on par with or more than the BLS average annual salary of all US occupations, $53,490), and/or
- Higher than average expected growth in openings between 2019 and 2029 (where BLS data is available)
This piece explores four burgeoning medtech professions for introverts in 2021: medical and clinical laboratory technology, medical equipment repair, cytotechnology, and pathologist assistance. Each career includes a discussion of job responsibilities, typical education required, credentialing, expected growth in the profession, and salary prospects.
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
Why this career works for introverts: Unlike many of the patient-facing medtech jobs, these professionals work predominately in a lab setting, completing their tasks relatively autonomously and with minimal social interaction (if desired).
Job responsibilities: There is a wide range of subfields for medical technicians and technologists and the duties vary by specialization, although there are some commonalities. These medtech workers typically use sophisticated lab equipment; analyze biological samples (e.g., blood, tissue, urine, etc.); record detailed data; and report findings to relevant medical personnel or supervisors. Some of the subfields of this discipline include immunohematology (e.g., blood), clinical chemistry, immunology, microbiology, and molecular biology.
Education required: Technicians typically have an associate degree, while technologists have at least a bachelor’s degree in medical technology, life sciences, clinical laboratory science, or a related discipline; both degree levels include coursework in lab management, microbiology, chemistry, statistics, and other subjects.
Credentialing: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) notes that some states require laboratory workers to pursue licensure, certification, or registration; for regional details, please contact the local State Board of Health or Board of Occupational Licensing; the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science; or the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
Expected growth in openings in the profession (2019-29): 7 percent* or 24,700 positions added nationwide (BLS 2020)
Salary: $53,120 ($25.54/hour) average annual salary** (BLS 2020), and in more detailed terms:
- 10th percentile – $30,920 ($14.86/hr.)
- 25th percentile – $39,030 ($18.76/hr.)
- 50th percentile (median) – $53,120 ($25.54/hr.)
- 75th percentile – $68,100 ($32.74/hr.)
- 90th percentile – $81,530 ($39.20/hr.)
To learn more about this career and accredited MLT degree programs, please visit the medical lab technician page.
*Please note that the average growth expected across all occupations nationwide between 2019 and 2029 is 4 percent.
**Again, the average annual salary of all US jobs is $53,490 (BLS 2020).
Why this career works for introverts: Similar to medical and clinical laboratory techs, these professionals perform many of their tasks independently, apart from reporting results to supervisors or medical staff.
Job responsibilities: Also referred to a ‘cytologists,’ these medtech workers fulfill an important function in a healthcare setting. The Mayo Clinic (2021) outlines the typical duties in this profession, which include studying cells at a microscopic level for signs of irregularities or disease; ensuring that samples came from the right patients; making detailed case notes for each sample; and maintaining equipment and records. Also, cytogenetic technology—a related profession—includes the advanced analysis of chromosomes in biological samples such as blood, bone marrow, and amniotic fluid.
Education required: According to the American Society for Cytotechnology (ASCT), these medtech workers typically attend an accredited program in cytotechnology, a list of which is available from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) website.
Credentialing: Following graduation from an accredited program in cytotechnology and gaining experience in the field, candidates may qualify to take one of the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Registry certification exams. Additionally, the ASCT reports that several states require regional licensing in this profession, including California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Montana, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Expected growth in openings in the profession (2019-29): While there are no specific BLS figures available for cytologists, they are categorized as ‘clinical laboratory technologists and technicians,’ a career expected to have openings swell 7 percent between 2019 and 2029.
Salary: According to Payscale (2021), a site that relies on self-reported data, cytotechnologists command the following annual salary percentiles:
- 10th percentile: $54,184
- 25th percentile: $59,592
- 50th percentile: $66,310
- 75th percentile: $72,384
- 90th percentile: $75,629
To learn more about this relatively lucrative and high-growth career, check out the cytotechnologist education page.
Medical Equipment Repairer
Why this career works for introverts: Rather than interfacing directly with people, medical equipment repairers typically work more with machines.
Job responsibilities: The duties vary by type of equipment, but these skilled workers, also referred to as biomedical technicians, install medical equipment (e.g., electromechanical, electronic, hydraulic); calibrate components; repair, test, and maintain parts; keep detailed service records; and learn continually about system and equipment updates.
Education required: Although some of these professionals learn all skills on-the-job, others may pursue an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering; for more advanced equipment (e.g., CAT scanners, defibrillators, PET scanners, etc.), repairers may need a bachelor’s degree.
Credentialing: While registration, licensure, or certification isn’t mandatory, it may be advisable to seek certification through the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), which offers three specialized credentials: certified laboratory equipment specialist (CLES), certified biomedical equipment technician (CBET), and certified radiology equipment specialist (CRES).
Expected growth in openings in the profession (2019-29): 5 percent, roughly average compared to all US occupations (BLS 2020)
Salary: $49,280 ($23.69/hour) average annual salary (BLS 2020), and in more detailed terms:
- 10th percentile – $29,630 ($14.25/hr.)
- 25th percentile – $36,630 ($17.61/hr.)
- 50th percentile (median) – $49,280 ($23.69/hr.)
- 75th percentile – $65,430 ($31.46/hr.)
- 90th percentile – $82,500 ($39.66/hr.)
Why this career works for introverts: These highly skilled professionals not only perform much of their work in a lab, but also may take samples from dead subjects, which naturally require no social interaction.
Education required: Federal law requires these professionals to have at least an associate degree (American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants [AAPA] 2021), although a bachelor’s or a master’s degree may be preferred by employers
Credentialing: Pathologists’ assistants may seek a three-year certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board, and only those with this credential are permitted to use the ‘PA (ASCP)’ designation after their name. The AAPA (Jan. 2021) reports that Nevada requires a state license to practice, and New York is in the process of implementing a similar requirement. Also, California requires a licensed pathologist to be onsite if a non-credentialed individual is performing anatomic pathology work.
Expected growth in openings in the profession (2019-29): No BLS data available
Salary: While the BLS does not track PAs’ employment and salary figures, Indeed.com (2021), a site comprising self-reported aggregated salary data notes that program graduates can expect to earn average annual salaries of $62,656, and more experienced PAs in certain regional areas can command six figures annually. Consistent with those projections, Salary.com (2021) reports that PAs nationwide have the following annual percentiles:
- 10th percentile – $39,797
- 25th percentile – $58,034
- 50th percentile (median) – $85,631
- 75th percentile – $102,993
- 90th percentile – $118,800
Job responsibilities: While PAs will have some social interaction since they work under pathologists, many of their responsibilities can be performed independently, including collecting and dissecting postmortem specimens; conducting various tests on samples (e.g., flow cytometry, immunohistochemical staining, frozen section, etc.); taking diagnostic images; maintaining detailed laboratory notes; and providing administrative support to pathologists. It’s important to note that some PAs may be asked to give instruction to colleagues, assist with autopsies, or even prepare conferences, although lab-based duties are the most common.
To learn more about the responsibilities of PAs, please visit the Guide to Lab Careers in Medical Technology.
In sum, many of the lab-based medtech careers may be more suitable for introverts than patient-facing professions. The four occupations discussed above not only focus much of their work in laboratories or with machines (as opposed to with people), but they also boast relatively high salary prospects and projected growth into the future.