If you are interested in molecular science, want to work in a laboratory setting and have great attention to detail, the molecular diagnostics technologist (MDT) role may be right for you.
Molecular diagnostics is an exciting field that is on the forefront of disease prevention. Using a series of techniques to analyze genetic material, molecular diagnostics is helping doctors make more accurate and personalized diagnoses. It is a rewarding career that is in high demand. If you are interested in molecular science, want to work in a laboratory setting and have great attention to detail, the molecular diagnostics technologist (MDT) role may be right for you. Read on to learn about what it takes to become an MDT, how to get certified and the job outlook for this position.
What Does a Molecular Diagnostics Technologist Do?
An MDT is an allied health professional who works in a laboratory setting, testing samples of human cells such as bone marrow, blood, hair and nails in order to inform diagnoses. MDTs process RNA and DNA, molecules that are crucial to cell life and production. By examining samples, MDTs can help detect disease and determine whether a person may have a predisposition to a certain disease. MDTs can also contribute to the research and development of new biological applications. One recent and well-known development that was made possible by molecular biology is the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
A molecular diagnostics technologist must be detail-oriented and possess good analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. They must also have good communication skills as they work on teams and must be able to share their findings clearly and accurately.
Where Do MDTs Work?
MDTs can work in labs for a variety of employers. Some may work in academic laboratories, such as at a college or university, where they conduct research and may also teach. Others may work in hospitals or diagnostic labs where they receive samples and contribute to real-world diagnoses. And still others may work in corporate research, such as for companies that develop therapies and biological advancements.
The Path to Becoming an MDT
A molecular diagnostics technologist has at least a bachelor’s degree. MDTs can study molecular science, genomics or a related field. After earning a degree, MDTs can pursue certification to enhance their job opportunities.
Choosing an Accredited Program
When selecting a school from which to earn a degree, aspiring MDTs want to choose an institution that is accredited or has an accredited program. Accreditation adds credibility to the degree a student earns and may be necessary to be eligible for certain jobs and certifications.
Many employers prefer applicants who are certified by a recognized professional association, such as the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Choosing a certifying body is just as important as choosing a school or program. When you choose a certification that is rigorous and practical, you are showing employers and patients that they can trust your skills and knowledge.
Certification with AMT requires that all applicants comply with certain eligibility requirements, or routes. Those who meet the requirements have an excellent chance of passing the certification exam. AMT certification is a national certification and is not limited to specific states. If you are interested in becoming certified through AMT as an MT, visit our Molecular Diagnostics Technologist page to determine if you are eligible.
MDT Career Advancement Options
MDTs have multiple options to advance their careers. Some MDTs may choose to pursue advanced degrees, such as a master’s or doctoral degree, which can open doors to positions like manager, administrative director or medical director. These roles involve management of people and teams and are well-suited for those who excel at leadership and have great organization and communication skills. These roles allow one to have greater influence on the direction and quality of an institution and come with great responsibility.
Molecular Diagnostics Technologist Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track employment data specifically for MDTs, however it found that approximately 335,500 clinical laboratory technologists and technicians—including MDTs—were employed in 2020. Employment in this sector is expected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.
An increase in the aging population will lead to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions, such as cancer or genetically linked diseases, through laboratory analysis. MDTs will be needed to help care teams diagnose patients and develop new medicines and therapies to treat them.
According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s 2019 Wage Survey of Medical Laboratories, the average annual wage of staff-level molecular biology technologists was about $60,848 in 2019.
Want to Learn More?
Check out our blog post on medical technologists’ critical role on health care teams.