Clinical Laboratory Scientist / Technician - How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist

Clinical Laboratory Scientist / Technician

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Clinical Laboratory Scientist/Technician Overview

 

Clinical or medical laboratory technicians are highly trained, precisely skilled laboratory scientists whose duty it is to discover the presence or absence of disease. They provide the data that physicians need to determine the best treatments for their patients.

Their work does not often place them in positions to be personally involved with patients, but laboratory technicians and technologists play a vital role in the process of providing individualized care. Clinical laboratory technicians generate data used in identification and treatment of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions.

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Responsibilities

 

Clinical, or medical, laboratory technicians evaluate the accuracy of test results and interpret them for the physician.They use state-of-the-art biomedical instrumentation and technology, in conjunction with precise skilled manual techniques to analyze and examine the following laboratory samples:

  • Bodily fluids
  • Tissues and cells
  • Infectious microorganisms
  • Chemical constituents of body fluids
  • Abnormalities in blood clotting
  • Cross-matching of donor blood for transfusions
  • Testing blood for drug levels as a means of measuring treatment efficacy

 

Laboratory technicians (CLT) and medical laboratory technicians (MLT) primarily focus on:

  • The collection, processing and analyzing of biological specimens
  • Performance of laboratory procedures
  • Maintenance of the laboratory instrumentation
  • Relating their findings to common diseases or conditions

 

While medical laboratory scientists (MLS) have more responsibilities, including:

  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Cross-matching and microbiological blood tests
  • Evaluate and interpret laboratory results
  • Data integration and problem-solving
  • Consult with physicians as needed
  • Conduct research
  • Evaluation of new testing methods

 

The difference between the two positions boils down to education. Laboratory technicians need only an associate's degree, while medical laboratory scientists must pursue at least a bachelor's degree.

Medical laboratory scientists have more opportunities to advance into management positions. This rapidly growing field is seeing new advances in areas such as genetic testing. This includes the rapidly advancing PCR (polymerase chain reaction), or biomarker, technology. Clinical and medical laboratory science professionals will be in greater demand in the coming years.

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Skills

 

Clinical laboratory scientists and technicians both need many of the same skills for success. A strong interest and mastery of the sciences, including chemistry, biology, and microbiology, is key, along with the capacity to work well both alone and as part of a team. 

They're required to have knowledge of key safety practices, biochemical reagents, and standard examinations, and to be an effective communicator, both orally and in writing. Problems can arise out of nowhere in a laboratory setting, so being able to quickly and logically find solutions is another highly sought-after skill employers look for in candidates.

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Working Conditions

 

The availability of employment opportunities in a clinical laboratory setting varies depending on the geographic region, meaning professionals in field have opportunities for challenging positions in a wide range of arenas.

Clinical laboratory professionals may find work in the following areas:

  • Hospital or clinic laboratories
  • Reference or commercial laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical or chemical industries
  • Public health laboratories
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Forensic and law enforcement laboratories
  • Research and teaching institutions
  • Fertility clinics
  • Cosmetic and food industry

The different work settings mean work hours may vary greatly. Most hospitals and reference laboratories operate 24/7, meaning evening and night shifts as well as weekend and holiday assignments. This makes it an appealing job for working parents, as there is flexibility in scheduling work shifts.

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows laboratory technicians working in the following areas:

 

General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private

50%

Medical and diagnostic laboratories 17%
Offices of physicians 10%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 5%

 


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How to Become an Allergist / Immunologist:

 

1. Earn an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree

 

Laboratory professionals follow a standard career ladder. A two-year associate degree is needed to become a clinical laboratory technician (CLT) or medical laboratory technician (MLT), and your degree must be from an approved program.

Medical laboratory scientists (MLS) must hold a bachelor’s degree and have successfully completed an accredited clinical laboratory science or medical technology program. Hospital systems and universities offer these accredited programs. There are higher levels of training available should any wish to pursue a particular specialization.

 

The preparation timeline below outlines the suggested courses for a bachelor's program:

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • English I
  • English II
  • Statistics I
  • Calculus I
  • Chemistry I & Lab
  • Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology I & Lab
  • Toxigenomics & Lab I
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Chemistry & Lab III
  • Physics I
  • Ethics I
  • Microbiology I
  • Immunology I
  • Intro to Clinical Laboratory Science
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Quantitative & Analytical Toxicology & Lab I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology & Lab I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology & Lab II
  • Pathology I
  • Public Health
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Clinical Bacteriology I
  • Clinical Immunology I
  • Clinical Immunology II
  • Clinical Immunohematology I
  • Clinical Hematology I
  • Clinical Hematology II
  • Urinalysis & Body Fluids I
  • Urinalysis & Body Fluids II
  • Mycology & Parasitology I
  • Mycology & Parasitology II
  • Remaining Requirements
  • Remaining Electives

 

2. Obtain a Certification

 

In order to compete their credentials, clinical laboratory scientists and technicians must complete a certification exam offered by one of the following agencies:

Each type of certification has different "routes" which are paths to qualifying for and completing the certification exam. Qualifications revolve around levels of applicable experience and past coursework, including immunology, biology, chemistry, hematology, urinalysis/body fluids, and others.

Fees also vary from $220.00 - $240.00, depending on which exam is necessary.

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
JOB PURPOSE OR MISSION: Performs routine and special clinical laboratory tests on patient specimens, correlates and interprets data based on knowledge of techniques, principles and instruments. Investigates problems, performs corrective and...
12.05.2016
Our laboratory consist of both Medical Technologist and Medical Laboratory Technicians both of whom are certified by and accrediting agency and licensed by the State of Louisiana. Technologists work as a team in multiple areas such as: Blood...
12.05.2016
Our laboratory consists of both Medical Technologist and Medical Laboratory Technicians both of whom are certified by an accrediting agency and licensed by the State of Louisiana. Technologists work as a team in multiple areas such as: Blood...
12.05.2016
The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
12.05.2016
The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
12.05.2016
The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
12.05.2016
The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
12.05.2016
The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
12.05.2016
The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
12.05.2016
Job Exempt No General Job Summary This job receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality...
  1. MLT, PRN - BRFMC Baton Rouge, LA Baton Rouge General Medical Center
    JOB PURPOSE OR MISSION: Performs routine and special clinical laboratory tests on patient specimens, correlates and interprets data based on knowledge of techniques, principles and instruments. Investigates problems, performs corrective and...
  2. Med Tech, ASCP - Lab Baton Rouge, LA Baton Rouge General Medical Center
    Our laboratory consist of both Medical Technologist and Medical Laboratory Technicians both of whom are certified by and accrediting agency and licensed by the State of Louisiana. Technologists work as a team in multiple areas such as: Blood...
  3. Med Tech, ASCP - Lab Baton Rouge, LA Baton Rouge General Medical Center
    Our laboratory consists of both Medical Technologist and Medical Laboratory Technicians both of whom are certified by an accrediting agency and licensed by the State of Louisiana. Technologists work as a team in multiple areas such as: Blood...
  4. Med Lab Tech - MLT - Core Lab - Nights New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
  5. Med Lab Tech - MLT - Send Outs - Days New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
  6. Med Lab Tech - Days - Send outs New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
  7. Med Lab Tech - Part time - Days - Send outs New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
  8. Med Lab Tech - Evenings - Core Lab New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
  9. Med Lab Tech/ Med Tech - Raceland - Nights New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    The Medical Laboratory Technician receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality control...
  10. Med Lab Tech - MLT - Baton Rouge New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    Job Exempt No General Job Summary This job receives and prepares specimens according to standard protocols and procedures; performs analytical laboratory tests and calculations according to section requirements and protocols; performs quality...