Top Career Paths in Medical Technology - On Board Virginia

Top Career Paths in Medical Technology

Posted on Jul 26, 2023

Medical technology is a vast field that continues to expand thanks to emerging advances in AI, healthcare equipment, and more. With demand increasing, it’s no surprise that there’s a growing need for medical technicians and medical technologists to assist in providing clinical care.

Read on to learn more about top careers paths in medical technology, including:

• What Is Medical Technology? 

• What Is a Medical Technician?

     ○ What Is a Medical Technologist (Medical Laboratory Scientist)?

     ○ What Can You Do with a Medical Technology Degree?

• Find Healthcare Careers in Virginia 

On Board Virginia is a leading resource on Virginia-based healthcare careers. Explore over 100 medical technology careers on our job board and find your home in healthcare!

What is Medical Technology?

Medical technology, also known as health technology or medtech, is the application of scientific knowledge, techniques, tools, and devices to improve an individual’s well-being. Medical technology supports the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and medical conditions.

When you think of medical technology, you might think of complex equipment like CT scanners and medical software. But even tools like surgical gloves and tongue depressors count as medical technology. These tools help medical professionals more accurately care for patients.

What Is a Medical Technician?

A medical technician works behind the scenes to perform laboratory tests and procedures under the direction of a physician, medical technologist, or lab manager. Their work is essential for accurate disease diagnosis, patient management, and monitoring treatment effectiveness.

Their primary role is to: 

    • Collect patient samples (e.g., blood, urine, tissue, etc.)

    • Conduct various tests following strict procedures for quality control

    • Analyze test results

    • Maintain and calibrate medical equipment

Overall salary and requirements for a medical technician vary by location and field. On average, medical technicians in Virginia start at an annual salary of $35,000 and require at least an associate’s degree or completion of a medical lab certification program. 

VA Ready offers several certification programs to fast-track individuals into rewarding healthcare careers.

Medical technicians can quickly grow into more advanced, high-paying roles as they gain on-the-job education, making them a popular choice for those entering the medical field with limited experience.

What Is a Medical Technologist (Medical Laboratory Scientist)?

A medical technologist, also known as a medical laboratory scientist, is an advanced lab professional who oversees a team of medical technicians. They’re qualified to perform more complex medical tests and often specialize in specific lab tests, including: 

  • Hematology – Examining blood samples to count blood cells, identify abnormalities, and analyze blood clotting factors

  • Clinical Chemistry – Analyzing chemical components in body fluids to assess organ function, detect metabolic disorders, or monitor drug levels

  • Immunology/Serology – Assessing the immune system’s response by measuring antibody levels or detecting specific antigens

  • Microbiology – Culturing and identifying microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi

  • Molecular Diagnostics – Performing genetic tests and analyzing DNA or RNA to detect genetic disorders, infectious diseases, or cancer markers

Thanks to their advanced experience, medical technologists can interpret results based on established data ranges and know how to troubleshoot technical issues to get reliable results. They work closely with healthcare professionals to provide critical information for patient diagnosis and treatment.

Medical technologists typically have a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, medical technology, or physical science and are MLS (medical laboratory scientist) certified. The average salary for a medical technologist in Virginia is $75,000.

What Can You Do with a Medical Technology Degree?

A medical technology degree (certification, associate’s, or bachelor’s) can lead to several fulfilling medical careers as you gain more experience and continued education. The possibilities are endless!

We’ve listed some of the most popular medical technician roles with high growth potential in order of lowest to highest average annual salary. Please note that the local average salary will change depending on your level of education, your medical experience, and where you are in Virginia.

Patient Care Technician

A patient care technician (PCT) is an unlicensed technician who provides patient care under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN). They check vital signs, escort patients, and collect patient samples for labs.

The average annual salary for a pharmacy technician in Virginia is $32,000. A high school diploma or equivalent and a certification are required. Additional certifications may be required.

Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician assists pharmacists by distributing medication to patients, handling refill requests, and processing billing and insurance coverage.

The average annual salary for a pharmacy technician in Virginia is $36,000. A high school diploma or equivalent and a certification are required.

Phlebotomy Technician

A phlebotomist is trained to draw blood from patients without increasing potential anxiety or discomfort. As an entry-level technician, phlebotomists work under the supervision of a clinical lab scientist.

The average annual salary for a phlebotomist in Virginia is $37,430. A high school diploma or equivalent is required, and a certification is preferred.

Surgical Technician

A surgical technician assists surgeons by preparing the operating room, setting up surgical instruments and equipment, and escorting patients to the operating room. During surgery, they disinfect the surgical site and pass sterile instruments to the surgeons and first assistants.

The average annual salary for a surgical technician is $53,600. An associate’s degree or certificate from an accredited surgical technology program is required, as well as state registration from the Department of Health Professions.

Sonographer Technician (Ultrasound Technician)

A diagnostic sonographer technician operates ultrasound equipment to produce dynamic images of internal structures, including the heart, blood vessels, abdomen, and breasts. Sonographers can also measure fetal growth and development in pregnant women. Physicians use these images to assess and medical diagnose conditions.

The average annual salary for a sonographer technician in Virginia is $77,230. A certificate or an associate’s degree from an accredited educational program is required, while voluntary certification through national radiologic registries is optional.

Find Healthcare Careers in Virginia

Medical technicians are crucial to operating and progressing medical technology. Becoming a medical technician can be an effective starting point toward rewarding medical careers. 

While some roles only require a high school diploma and the completion of short certification programs, other higher-paying roles may need a relevant degree. Over time, advanced roles will scale based on your experience and continued education.

Take advantage of On Board Virginia’s job board to explore medical technology roles in Virginia and apply now!