From Technician to Technologist: Benefits of Advancing Your Allied Health Career

Healthcare technicians and technologists are medical professionals who work with diagnostic equipment and laboratory samples across a variety of specialties. Although many employers use these job titles interchangeably, they're actually distinct professions that have differences in educational requirements, job responsibilities and salaries.



If you're looking to advance your allied health career there are several potential career benefits to making the move from technician to technologist. First, however, it's important to understand the difference between these two similar career paths.


Although job details can vary depending on the specialty, medical technician positions are generally entry-level, according to All Allied Health Schools. Job responsibilities for technicians may include equipment setup, patient preparation, data input and the execution of simple diagnostic tests.

In many specialties, the only educational requirement to become a technician is an associate's degree in a medical or relevant scientific field. In some cases, technicians need to have only vocational training.


Technologists generally need to hold a bachelor's degree in a scientific, technological or medical field. Depending on their specialty and their state of residence, technologists may also require a license or certification from an industry organization.

Although the job responsibilities of technicians and technologists often overlap, technologists' tasks are likely more in-depth and analytical, and they're often entrusted with duties requiring higher levels of responsibility. In general, technologists operate and maintain medical equipment, perform more complex diagnostic testing, analyze samples and review test results with physicians. They may also work in supervisory roles, overseeing a team of technicians.


Job Security

According to American Medical Technologists, employment opportunities for technologists are expected to demonstrate above-average growth in the coming years. An aging population's need for medical testing coupled with the nearly continuous advances happening in modern diagnostic technology means that healthcare professionals choosing to follow this career path can count on job security.

Higher Salaries

Although salaries can vary depending on the specialty and the location of assignments, traveling medical technologists can earn up to $2,500 for a 40-hour week while traveling technicians' salaries rarely exceed $2,000 and are often considerably lower.

Continued Advancement Potential

Technicians have limited potential for career advancement in most facilities, which is why the next logical step is often to become a technologist. This move can be achieved through on-the-job experience, supplemental education and licensing or certification.

Once you land a position as a technologist, it's then possible to advance to supervisory roles, including a job as a laboratory manager in a hospital or an independent research lab. It's also possible for technologists to embark on a career path outside of traditional patient care. Companies that manufacture laboratory equipment, supplies and home diagnostic testing kits often hire experienced technologists for roles in sales, marketing and product development. Technologists who choose this path may ultimately find themselves in supervisory or management roles in these businesses.

Job Satisfaction

Technologists often find their jobs to be exceptionally rewarding. In the course of their routine duties, they provide vital patient information to physicians, helping doctors make critical and potentially life-saving diagnoses and changing the lives of people every day.

Technologists working in research labs may also be adding to a bank of knowledge that can ultimately lead to new medical treatments or even a cure for a deadly disease. If you're looking to make a difference, a career as a technologist may be the one for you.


Working as a technologist may not be for everyone, but if you're an analytical, detail-oriented technician who works well under pressure and has excellent problem-solving skills, taking the leap to the next level may be a natural one. Apply for an allied healthcare position in an exciting new location through AMN's extensive database of traveling technician and technologist jobs.


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