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Can a Felon Become a Medical Lab Technician?

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Job opportunities are difficult to come by after being released from prison. There are resources available, though felons may not believe they can find a job.

Often, felons must look at different career path, including returning to school for additional education. While serving their sentence, some felons might consider a career in medicine or healthcare and could explore a career as a medical lab technician.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a medical lab technician.

  • What is a Medical Lab Technician?
  • What Education/Training Does a Medical Lab Technician Need?
  • How Much Does a Medical Lab Technician Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Medical Lab Technician?

A medical lab technician (MLT) assists doctors and other healthcare specialists by performing a variety of tests on blood, tissue, and other bodily fluids to help diagnose and treat patients.

Medical lab technicians work in laboratory settings, often in doctors’ offices or hospitals. Medical laboratory technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate laboratory equipment, such as microscopes
  • Use automated equipment and computerized instruments
  • Record data from medical tests

While both lab technicians and technologists perform tests and procedures, technologists perform more complex tests than technicians do. Technicians perform routine tests that may be more automated. Medical laboratory technicians usually work under medical laboratory technologists.

There are a number of types of specialized medical laboratory technicians, including:

  • Blood bank technologist. Collects and prepares blood.
  • Clinical chemistry technologist. Prepares and analyzes specimens.
  • Cytotechnologist. Prepares slides for microscopic examination.
  • Immunology technologist. Examines the immune system.
  • Microbiology technologist. Identifies bacteria.
  • Molecular biology technologist. Does protein tests.

What Education/Training Does a Medical Lab Technician Need?

An applicant for a medical lab technician must have a high school diploma or a GED. Additionally, he or she must complete at least an associate degree in medical laboratory technology from an accredited program or college which must be approved by the American Medical Technology (AMT) Board.

Any educational program must include course work and practical lab experience in:

  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Hematology
  • Blood Banking

Following completion of the educational part, an applicant also is required to take and pass an exam administered by the AMT Board.

How Much Does a Medical Lab Technician Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there are approximately 335,700 medical lab technicians in the United States. The median annual pay for medical lab technicians was $51,770 in 2017. The median income is the salary at which half of MLTs earned more than and half less.

Earnings increase with experience and vary by location. Those on the East or West coast typically earn more than a medical lab technician that works elsewhere.

The job outlook for medical lab technicians is good, with a growth of 13% expected between 2016 and 2026, which is average as people become older and require more medical tests and procedures as part of medical treatment.

An Opportunity for Felons?

A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. Approximately 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, although there’s no standard policy regarding a background check. Any felon that wants to get a degree in preparation for becoming a medical lab technician can find a college that will accept him or her.

While the specific requirements for criminal history does vary from one state to another, certain factors are typical. The following histories will disqualify an individual from consideration for admission to a program because the student would not be eligible for clinical placement:

  • Intentional, knowing, or reckless abandonment or endangerment of a child
  • Deadly conduct
  • Terroristic threat
  • Aiding suicide
  • Prohibited sexual conduct (incest)
  • Agreement to abduct a child from custody
  • Domestic violence case
  • Violation of protective order
  • Sale or purchase of a child
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Burglary
  • Online solicitation of minor
  • Money laundering
  • Medicaid fraud
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Compelling prostitution
  • Causing sexual performance by a child
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography
  • Any other offense for which registration as a sex offender is required

The following histories will disqualify an individual from consideration for admission if the conviction occurred within the last five years:

  • Assault punishable as a Class A misdemeanor or felony
  • Felony theft
  • Misapplication of fiduciary property or property of financial institution punishable of Class A misdemeanor or felony
  • False identification as a peace officer
  • Disorderly conduct

It’s important to be honest in filling out an application when applying for medical lab tech school or certification. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

Having their felony expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming an MLT. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It’s a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to become a medical lab technician. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding in becoming an MLT.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a medical lab technician with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

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