Laboratory technician, VET with full employment experiencing a boom: hospital staff doubled

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“What people think is that we put tubes in a machine and we give the start. That is not true, it has nothing to do with it ”. So disassemble Ana Belén Tortajada a cliché about his profession. This woman is a laboratory technician at the blood bank of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid. His is a profession that goes very unnoticed but that is increasingly in demand, more necessary, and which is accessed through a vocational training degree (FP), with full employment and a good salary.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, laboratory technicians have experienced a boom never seen in their recent history. “We have had to double the laboratory staff of all the hospitals in this country. There has been a great demand and in some places it has been necessary to reach the zero bag to hire laboratory technicians “, he explains Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of the Spanish Association of Laboratory Technicians (AETEL).

“There is a significant increase in the number of laboratory technicians in the different research teams of the Institute of Biology, in medical schools, in research centers, in the Salamanca Cancer Research Center…. In all the centers where there is research, there are many and very good ones. In all these teams there are many technicians. The more research teams and the more people talk about these issues, the more technicians are needed ”.

However, although the trade currently lives its particular August, also goes through a series of problems. This is a very unknown profession, highly demanded “and very mistreated,” adds Tortajada. “We are a vital part but we are not many and we have a lot of intrusion from the infirmary.”

An example of this “intrusion” that almost any Spaniard has experienced in their meat: taking a PCR sample, that is, putting the stick in the patient’s nose. This gesture so repeated during the last two years, in most cases, has fallen on the nurses, when the most suitable person to do this work is a laboratory technician, according to the interviewees.

Health personnel take a sample for a PCR.

Health personnel take a sample for a PCR.

Salvador Sas/EFE

“We have always said that why they did not send laboratory technicians to take that sample for the PCR and so on they had enough nurses to give the vaccines, for direct patient care, etc ”, explains Rodríguez. It is precisely the laboratory technician who completes the process of a PCR.

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the shortcomings of the health systems in Spain (if we speak in the plural, it is because health is a regional competence, therefore, there are 17). Laboratory technicians have been no exception. “The hospital now lacks staff of all kinds. Sanitary and non-sanitary. Until recently, I was alone in the immunogenetics laboratory, with all that this entails, ”says Olga Álvarez, who has been working in this profession for more than 20 years. The hospital he refers to is the Gregorio Marañón in Madrid, one of the largest in Spain.

Castilla y León, where they charge the least

A laboratory technician “can participate both in the process of discovering new drugs and in research in the field of chemistry to obtain new materials”, in the words of the human resources company Adecco. “He is a laboratory assistant who is in charge of analyzing raw materials of biological origin, such as cells, tissues or biological fluids, depending on the scientific department in which he works. In the chemical field, it focuses on the design and synthesis of compounds. Their tasks include the correct handling of the raw materials and the tools that are used and the performance of the necessary quality controls ”.

This profile has an average salary around 20,400 euros per year, according to Adecco. This figure is corroborated by Rodríguez, although it may vary greatly according to each autonomous community. “Castilla León is the community where a laboratory technician earns the least and there may be a difference of up to 4,000 or 5,000 euros per year less than, for example, the Community of Madrid, the Basque Country or Navarra ”.

Olga Álvarez, laboratory and radiology technician at the Gregorio Marañón hospital in Madrid.

Olga Álvarez, laboratory and radiology technician at the Gregorio Marañón hospital in Madrid.


Álvarez assures that she charges 1,600 euros net per month, which places her above the average. Keep in mind that this worker accumulates “Nine triennia, almost 10” in the profession. In addition, it has two specialties. “I am a laboratory and radiotherapy technician. Radiation therapy does not contribute to the diagnosis, but we are the ones who treat cancer patients every day ”.

The majority of laboratory technicians in Spain work in the public sector, due to the broad healthcare structure of our country. However, there are not a few companies that demand this profile. All you have to do is do a search on the Infojobs job portal and names like the ones Laboratorios Rovi, Sociedad Agrícola Gallega, Inycom or Exide Technologies. Likewise, private hospitals also need this profile.

“Although there are important private hospitals and laboratories, they are quite inferior in number and percentage to public centers. Therefore, the majority work in public centers ”. AETEL does not have an approximate number of how many laboratory technicians there are in our country. “It is very difficult to know how many there are in Spain. There are about 200 vocational training centers in all Spain. The number of students and the number of groups that exist is decreasing ”.

“I can’t work in Portugal”

This guild has been fighting for two decades to equate its status with the rest of Europe. “One of the demands that we have and that we have been making for years, with all governments and political parties, is that our qualifications have to be equal to those of Europe. We are the only country in Europe where there are two degrees: pathological anatomy and clinical analysis. We are the only country in all of Europe, and outside of Europe as well, in which we do not have a first-cycle university qualification but a higher professional training ”, Rodríguez denounces.

I cannot go to work in Portugal and I have it here next door. Portuguese technicians have a single qualification and four years of study. There is a problem of validation of titles so that Spanish technicians can go to Europe, and that European technicians can come to Spain ”.

“Europe has long been demanding that Spain give laboratory technicians the training that we have and deserve in the rest of Europe, which is university,” protests Tortajada. All the problems we have is that the Government of Spain does not want to invest in that. As a result, we have this whole problem of intrusion and poor training. The Ministry has had it on the table for 15 years ”.

“Despite this, do you recommend the profession for those who come after you?”

I love my work. What happens is that the nurses usurp our work a lot – considers Álvarez.

It is a very beautiful profession but it involves many problems. We are a vital part but we are not many and we have a lot of intrusion from the infirmary. It is a constant mistreatment – stresses Tortajada.

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