Medical Lab Technician Salary - How Much Do MLTs Make?
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Medical lab technicians (MLTs) work in a laboratory setting, assisting in the analysis of a number of samples, the results of which will be provided to physicians and other healthcare practitioners to help diagnose and treat their patients. Due to the relatively technical nature of the work, medical lab technicians must be diligent and precise, and must possess a specialized skillset developed through rigorous coursework and hands-on training. Most MLTs are not patient-facing, so by and large, the MLT role is suited to those who are attentive and who enjoy the routine challenge of lab work without much, or any, patient interaction.
Of course, many find the time and effort spent training to become a medical lab technician not only personally rewarding, but financially as well. While medical lab technicians may not earn as much as doctors or nurses, they are still compensated well for the work that they perform. Furthermore, the demand for MLTs is fairly high, and the field is projected to grow steadily in the coming years. Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for medical lab technicians will grow by 16 percent by the year 2024, or a total increase of 52,100 jobs altogether, which the BLS asserts is growth that is “much faster than average.”
Overall, if you hope to one day work as a medical lab technician, it is important to have realistic expectations regarding the level of salary you may command, which depends on a number of factors, including experience and location. As such, we have provided a brief overview of MLT salaries; consider using this guide as a reference as you search for the right position for your future.
MLT Salary by Region
As is the case with many other careers, salary for medical lab technicians will vary significantly depending on location. In fact, a number of factors will affect the level of compensation a medical lab technician will receive, including local MLT supply, demand, and cost of living. Below, we have listed statistics provided by the BLS that show the difference in the average reported salaries for medical lab technicians by state, not adjusted for cost of living:
- California – $47,740, or $22.95 per hour
- Texas – $38,970, or $18.74 per hour
- Pennsylvania – $42,060, or $20.22 per hour
- New York – $47,000, or $22.59 per hour
- Ohio – $42,600, or $20.48 per hour
- Tennessee – $36,640, or $17.62 per hour
- Maryland – $41,570, or $19.98 per hour
- Utah – $33,560, or $16.13 per hour
- Massachusetts – $42,860, or $20.61 per hour
- Mississippi – $35,500, or $17.07 per hour
- Rhode Island – $59,140, or $28.43 per hour
- Vermont – $55,050, or $26.47 per hour
- Connecticut – $49,810, or $23.95 per hour
- Alaska – $48,610, or $23.37 per hour
- New Jersey – $48,380, or $23.26 per hour
While at first glance it may seem that medical lab technician employment would allow for a much higher living standard in Rhode Island than it would in Utah, it is important to factor in both areas’ costs of living. When we do, we find that Providence, RI, has a cost of living that is 37% higher than that of Salt Lake City, UT, which would effectively equalize Rhode Island’s 43% compensation advantage.
Aspiring medical lab technicians should also be aware of the likelihood of finding employment in states nationwide. For example, while MLTs in Rhode Island may command the highest average salary out of all 50 states, job opportunities are scarce; specifically, there are only 380 throughout the state, or a total of .8 per thousand jobs. In Tennessee, in comparison, where the average wage is over $20,000 less, job opportunities are more plentiful; in this state, there are 6,740 positions, or a total of 2.39 per thousand jobs.
Finally, those eager to find a job in this position should also take note of the large variations in salary that may occur, even within a single state. For example, the average salary for medical laboratory technicians in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, California Metropolitan Division is approximately $60,600, or $29.13 per hour; an hour’s drive south, in Santa Cruz, the same professionals earn, on average, $54,930, or $26.41 per hour. This is likely the result of a number of regional factors, including local differences in cost of living and demand.
MLT Salary by Experience
As could be expected, another factor that significantly affects the amount earned by a medical lab technician is experience, or the number of years during which an individual has been working in the profession. Consider, for example, statistics offered by PayScale, which show the average amount an individual may expect to earn based off the national average:
- National average salary (according to PayScale statistics) – $37,000
- Entry-level salary – 5 percent decrease, or $35,150
- Mid-career salary – 5 percent increase, or $38,750
- Experienced employee salary – 6 percent increase, or $39,220
- Late-career salary – 18 percent increase, or $43,660
Here, the statistics show that an individual who works in medical lab technology for the duration of their career can earn more than when they first began. Furthermore, the statistics above only account for the national average; as such, those who begin at a higher salary (and perform well) might reasonably expect to earn a proportionally higher amount as they gain experience and advance.
MLT Salary by Office Type
One additional factor that affects the amount of compensation received by a medical lab technician is the type of office or setting in which they work. To be sure, not all medical lab technicians work in the same environment; and, in fact, the job setting can actually have a grand effect on the expected salary.
Take, for example, data provided by the BLS that shows the difference in salary earned by medical lab technicians based on their place of employment:
- General medical and surgical hospitals – $42,020, or $20.20 per hour
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories – $40,570, or $19.50 per hour
- Offices of physicians – $41,610, or $20.00 per hour
- Other ambulatory healthcare services – $37,350, or $17.96 per hour
- Outpatient care centers – $43,080, or $20.71 per hour
- Offices of dentists – $55,880, or $26.86 per hour
- Individual and family services – $54,830, or $26.36 per hour
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services – $48,080, or $23.12 per hour
- Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing – $46,800, or $22.50 per hour
The data listed above shows that medical lab technicians who work in the office of a dentist or in individual or family services will likely earn, on average, a significant amount more than those who work in a medical laboratory or the office of a physician. Of course, it should also be noted that those medical lab technicians who work in these more specialized industries, such as in dental offices, may also require additional certifications or specializations. In fact, an MLT who works in a dental office may in fact need to study to become a dental lab technician, which is a related but different occupation. While both are lab-based roles without much patient interaction, medical lab technicians run tests and analyze results, while dental lab technicians focus more on preparing customized orthodontia.
MLT Salary Overall
Data from the BLS shows that, on average, medical laboratory technicians earn slightly more than all occupations nationwide; specifically, this source asserts that the average annual salary for medical lab technicians is $38,970, compared to $36,200 for all other jobs. This is broken down into the following percentiles:
- 10th – $25,890, or $12.45 per hour
- 25th – $31,350, or $15.07 per hour
- 50th – $38,970, or $18.73 per hour
- 75th – $49,410, or $23.76 per hour
- 90th – $60,810, or $29.23 per hour
Here, it is helpful to note that two separate sources report different numbers of terms of the average salary earned by medical lab technicians; indeed, the BLS claims the national average is approximately $38,970, while PayScale asserts this number is actually $37,000. This is not a massive difference, although it’s important to allow for some leeway in regards to salary expectations for the profession.
Ultimately, working as a medical lab technician very often comes with better than average financial compensation that can increase as one gains experience in the role.