Certified Lab Assistant Career and Certification

A job as a certified lab assistant can give you the opportunity to aid scientists and technologists in their efforts to diagnose and treat patients. Read about the training options for this career, such as associate's degree and certificate programs in medical technology. Review the process for becoming certified, and check the job outlook and salary potential for lab assistants. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Lab assistants, sometimes known as clinical and medical lab technicians, work in medical facilities with scientists and physicians. They organize and test samples, manage lab equipment, conduct tests, and record testing data. Professional certifications exist for lab assistants in the United States. Online education options are available as well.

Licensing Required by some states in order to work professionally
Certification Lab assistants who meet certain requirements can be certified by American Medical Technologists (AMT)
Career Outlook Experts predict a 14% increase in medical and clinical lab technician jobs from 2016-2026

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect from a Career as a Certified Lab Assistant?

As a certified lab assistant (or lab technician), you could work directly under the supervision of technologists or scientists in a medical lab. Your work could include:

  • Receiving and analyzing samples of patients' tissue or fluid
  • Conducting lab tests
  • Keeping samples organized
  • Sterilizing lab equipment
  • Recording test outcomes

You can expect to operate in a clean, high-tech environment using intricate tools, such as centrifuges and microscopes. Much of your work also includes the use of advanced computer programs. You may find yourself working in hospitals, medical laboratories, physicians' offices or other health care facilities.

What Are the Requirements for Certification?

While voluntary in many cases, becoming certified as a lab assistant could help you find employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). You can pursue certification through the American Medical Technologists (AMT), which gives the nationally recognized certification exam for professionals in this field (www.americanmedtech.org). The AMT has determined five ways to qualify for medical laboratory technician certification:

  • The
  • Possess an associate degree in medical technology or a comparable field from an accredited school
  • Complete 60 credit hours of approved courses and six months of lab experience
  • Acquire 50 weeks of military lab training credits leading to a degree from an accredited school
  • Hold certification from another certifying organization
  • Pass a state licensure exam

What Are My Online Training Options?

Lab assistant training requires you to participate in a certain amount of laboratory experience, so you will not find programs entirely online. Most associate and certificate programs are offered in the traditional classroom style. You can, however, find a hybridized program that combines online coursework and lab experience. In any case, you can expect to travel to a campus, hospital or other participating facility for your lab work.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The BLS reported that job growth for medical and clinical lab technicians was projected to be strong because the demand for qualified individuals is outpacing the number of applicants. As a result, a 14% increase in employment was expected between 2016 and 2026. The median salary for all medical and clinical lab technicians and technologists was $51,770 as of May 2017 (www.bls.gov).

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