Technologist vs Technician

medical tech

Job Titles. Who cares about titles, right? Well, some people care a lot, and others not at all. Does it matter to you whether you are referred to as a technologist or a technician? In this article, we'll investigate the distinction between these terms in allied healthcare. Bear in mind, though, that technologists and technicians are found in many fields, such as information technology, transportation, manufacturing and biological research. Let's see what the internet dictionaries tell us about the differences between technician and technologist. Websters is not too enlightening on 'technologist' ('specialist in technology' duh ...). has a bit more to offer on the subject.

TLDR: 'Technologist' is often thought to be a fancier term than 'technician'. It indicates advanced knowledge of a particular profession or  general mastery in a given field. Technicians are often considered to be 'hands-on', having developed a practical expertise in a specific field. Their skills in a deeply focused area can result in high demand for their services. There is no sweeping generalization regarding salaries for technicians vs technologists. Compensation depends on the education, skills, and experience required for the position, as well as the hiring location and industry demand for skilled staff. also has some interesting data on the average pay for technologists and technicians across all professions in the U.S. 

What do technicians do?

  • Inspect , repair  and maintain equipment Technicians are responsible for the regular inspection of equipment. Inspection highlights any needed repairs, maintenance or replacements. Sanitation/sterilization, patient safety, and regular calibration are priorities for techs in the medical field.
  • Update or replace equipment Technicians must stay current in their field. They need to be aware of technical advances in their area of expertise and advise employers as to software and/or hardware updates that are needed immediately -- or in the future. For medical techs this means being aware of the equipment's impact on patient care as well as the budgetary implications of any upgrades. 

What do technologists do?

Technologists develop a broader knowledge base when compared to technicians, although technicians may have more knowledge of the specifics within the particular segment of technology they specialize in. The duties of a technologist include:

  • Play well on teams Everyone in the medical profession works on a team at one time or another. However, the nature of a technician's work usually means that at some point, they're on a one-person task. Technologists, on the other hand, are almost always working with a team. Depending upon the profession, Technologists may direct and develop project plans that technicians, and other team members, implement.
  • Implement new tech In some fields Technologists design and build new devices or digital solutions. This is not generally the case in the healthcare field. Technologists here are more likely to become highly knowledgeable in the medical technology that exists or is on the horizon, whereas the  development falls to pharmaceutical or medical companies and government bodies. Technologists must stay current with advances in their field, research it and thoroughly understand how it works, develop a plan for integrating the tech into their workplace. 
  • Maintain / update tech Depending upon the profession, the technologist may perform repairs or updates on relevant equipment. This is most often done if the technologist has more experience with this particular task than a technician, or if there is no technician available to perform the update.

Is there a difference between technologists and technicians?

Education and experience 

Technicians are usually required to have a high school diploma or G.E.D. Depending on the specialty, and employer may want an associate degree and/or applicable certifications. Technologists may need bachelor's degree and/or licensing if their profession requires it. Experience is always desirable, although technicians may be able to obtain employment at the entry level without it. Clinical internships, mentorships, residencies or fellowships are excellent ways to bridge the gap between education and employment.

Career growth

Technologists often end up in managerial roles. It's not as common for a technician to hold a managerial role (even though many technicians have unofficial leadership positions). Technicians must be extremely precise and reliable in the performance of their duties. There is generally no "improvising" in their tasks, and many technicians find this to be a very fulfilling place to be. If you know, you know.

Practical Applications and/or Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Technicians focus on skills that they can apply and integrate into their daily duties. Technologists also acquire practical skills and, in addition, may apply scientific method, conditional thinking and consideration of possible future outcomes to their related disciplines. Their theoretical knowledge can be factored into the overall goals and plans of the hiring organization.

Don't Sweat Your Title

Whatever your title may be, what matters is how much you like and are interested in the work you do. Do your colleagues respect you? Do you feel valued? Are you learning all the time? Are you compensated appropriately? If you're not saying "yes" to these questions, maybe it's time think about an allied travel career reboot.



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