What does a clinical technician do? (With skills and salary)

Updated 31 January 2023

Clinical technicians are a core part of the medical and health care sectors, with a range of responsibilities that all relate to maintaining high clinical standards. They generally work with patients directly, using a robust level of medical expertise and knowledge to enhance the patient's overall experience and ensure they get results as quickly as possible. Clinical technicians face a variety of tasks across the working week, making this a flexible and multifaceted role. In this article, we answer 'What does a clinical technician do?' and list the skills that can help ensure you succeed in this role.

What does a clinical technician do?

If you wish to enter the medical sector, you might wonder 'What does a clinical technician do?'. These experts have many duties, all involve applying their pre-existing medical knowledge. This includes aiding other health care professionals with their needs, operating sensitive equipment and helping patients in any way they require. Typically speaking, clinical technicians facilitate the delivery of high-quality health care using specialist equipment or technology integral to ensuring patients get the results they require. They also conduct a range of supporting duties with the aim of maintaining a smooth experience for every party at the clinic.

Some clinical technician duties include:

Operating specialist machinery

The main pillar of the clinical technician role is its use of equipment and machinery to do tests or otherwise aid patients in their diagnosis, treatment or recovery. This might include conducting a patient's electrocardiogram to check for heart conditions, for example, or using an X-ray machine to inspect bone-related injuries. A clinical technician has a strong understanding of these machines and many others like them, though they usually hone their proficiency through on-the-job training. As part of this, they calibrate and test the equipment to ensure it all works as necessary and can provide them with an accurate result.

Keeping equipment clean

Cleanliness is important in any professional setting, but especially so in health care when working with sensitive equipment and settings. For this reason, clinical technicians are responsible for the sterilisation and cleaning of their equipment in accordance with the clinic's protocols. Even when this doesn't appear necessary, cleaning a machine significantly limits the risk of disease or infection spreading, which is especially risky in a hospital. The exact method of cleaning typically varies depending on the equipment in question, but technicians know how to take care of the technology they use and ensure it doesn't form a health risk for anybody.


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Maintaining patient confidentiality

In any health care setting, it's essential to maintain confidentiality. This means all medical information a patient discloses to a health care practitioner or which the practitioner discovers by examination, stays between them unless the patient gives permission. In many cases, clinical technicians operate the machinery that helps detect and diagnose health issues, making them privy to a vast amount of confidential information and data they always keep confidential. No matter the position or exact responsibilities, any medical staff working closely with patients adheres to confidentiality, providing non-judgemental trust and support that helps to make patients feel comfortable.

Related: What is the importance of confidentiality? (With examples)

Attending or giving training sessions

As this is a specialist role involving the use of complex equipment, clinical technicians attend training as part of their usual duties to ensure they know how to operate and maintain the machines they work with. They also learn how to troubleshoot the equipment if any errors or issues emerge, letting them deal with machines that aren't performing as necessary. Further on in the role, the technicians conduct their own training with newer staff members to help them understand the intricacies of the technology they use. This helps them to pass their knowledge onto the next generation of staff.

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Preparing patients

Clinical technicians make sure patients are ready for any procedure, both physically and mentally. This includes washing the patient with lotions and other antibacterial solutions, alongside helping them understand what happens during their treatment. Patients benefit from a complete understanding of their situation as knowing the exact procedures in-depth may help them stay at ease during their visit. Applying chemical aids, such as lotions and antiseptics, prior to examinations or treatment also keeps affected areas clean, which is highly important in a medical setting. In this role, a clinical technician is often responsible for the patient's successful and anxiety-free treatment.

Taking patient vital signs

An extension of the clinical technician's equipment use, this duty involves taking accurate readings of a patient and their medical state to best inform how other specialists might proceed with treatment. These technicians may take a visitor's blood pressure, pulse or temperature to ascertain how they feel. They then transcribe this data and place it within the patient's medical records. After more testing, the clinical technician interprets the results to better understand the patient's needs. Accuracy and attention to detail are vital for this duty, as incorrect readings could lead to people choosing treatments that won't work effectively.

Education requirements for clinical technicians

These roles don't have set requirements, but an undergraduate degree in a medical field or an equivalent substitute qualification is usually necessary or at least helpful. This can be in medical technology, nursing, clinical science or any other course that provides the foundational knowledge or skills for the position. A master's degree is often not a necessity, but serves as a greater example of your commitment and devotion to medical practice and developing your understanding.

Related: How to become a pharmacy technician: qualifications, FAQ

Skills of a clinical technician

Since clinical technicians have many responsibilities and tasks, they develop an array of diverse skills to match the role's requirements. For some of these skills, the technician may train on the job to learn them, though many organisations typically expect candidates for this position to already have most of the vital attributes, alongside the relevant qualifications. Clinical technicians employ a mix of soft and hard skills to conduct their work. Below are some of the most common skills among these specialists:

  • Medical knowledge: Clinical technicians are medical experts and are able to diagnose illnesses or injuries just as easily as other health care professionals by reading the scans they conduct. These interpretations are key to determining what treatments and medicines a patient receives, so strong medical knowledge ensures they get the correct help.

  • Technical prowess: These technicians work extensively with machines and equipment, often with few or no functions in common with one another, so an ability to get to grips with technology and use it is vital. A clinical technician has extensive knowledge of these machines, allowing them use or troubleshoot a range of software and hardware.

  • Bedside manner: As with any medical professional, clinical technicians can empathise with patients and help them be as comfortable as possible in the midst of a distressing situation or diagnosis. They usually help to put patients at ease by explaining upcoming procedures or treatments and can sometimes even deliver diagnoses themselves.

  • Communication: Along similar lines, clinical technicians regularly interact with both patients and colleagues, and this means strong communication is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page and has all the right information. Miscommunication could lead to incorrect treatments or undue stress for the patient, so keeping in contact can guarantee a positive experience for everyone.

  • Attention to detail: Any task is a sensitive one in the context of health care, making it essential for technicians to be precise and accurate, such as by cleaning their equipment to limit the spread of germs. This can also help clinical technicians when it comes to interpreting charts or scans, as they can spot something that others might miss.

  • Organisation: Clinical technicians are able to keep track of any patient's data and maintain consistent records of both patients and equipment. By keeping everything organised and consistent, technicians can ensure everything else runs smoothly for themselves and for their colleagues.

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