Blood bank technology involves the methods and protocol of collecting and preparing blood for medical procedures. Learn about career choices, related salary info, education options, coursework and licensure requirements.
Blood bank technologists, also called immunohematology technologists, are specialized medical technologists who prepare blood for transfusions. This involves collecting and typing blood, assisting physicians in transfusion therapy and investing abnormalities like hemolytic anemias.
As a blood bank technologist, you could be employed in one of a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, blood centers and independent laboratories. You might work days, nights, weekends or even holidays, depending upon your employer. You might also work on a rotating shift or be on call. While laboratory settings are usually clean and well lit, your job may involve being on your feet a lot. Although you'll come into contact with infectious specimens, you'll be trained to avoid any potential hazards.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical laboratory jobs - including jobs in blood bank technologies - are expected to increase by 14% from 2008-2018, which is faster than the average for all jobs (www.bls.gov). Working in this field, you might expect to earn about $54,579 per year; this was the overall average for specialists in blood bank technology as of 2008, according to the American Medical Association (www.ama-assn.org). With experience, you might advance to a blood bank supervisor position. As of January 2012, most blood bank supervisors earned between $47,539 and $91,303, according to PayScale.com.
According to the BLS, you typically need a bachelor's degree to become a medical technologist of any type. Medical technology majors are offered at many universities and hospitals. A major in one of the life sciences may also be applicable to a career in blood bank technologies.
In addition to a bachelor's degree, you typically need to complete a 1-year post-baccalaureate certificate program in blood bank technology. Master's degree programs are also available in blood bank technologies that generally take two years to complete. Admission requirements for a master's program may include certification and blood bank experience.
If you don't want to complete five or more years of education, you might consider becoming a blood bank technician. Medical technician jobs generally require only an associate degree or certificate, which can be earned in 1-2 years. A list of schools that offer blood bank technology certificate or associate degree programs can be obtained via the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) website (www.caahep.org).
Depending upon your employer or state of employment, you may also need to pursue certification or licensure to work in blood bank technologies. A variety of associations offer medical technologist certification for various specialties. For example, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) offers both a technologist certification in blood banking (BB) and a specialist certification in blood banking (SBB).