Clinical Lab Assistant (CLA) Certification and Training Programs
Clinical lab assistants help laboratory personnel and physicians gather and test specimens. Learn about the job duties, training programs and certification requirements for this field.
What Training Do I Need?
According to the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, most lab assistants learn the skills and tasks of the position on the job. The only requirement the society encourages for assistants is having a high school diploma or the equivalent.
However, certificate programs are available if you are interested in obtaining training prior to seeking employment. These certificate programs include lectures, labs and internships. Topics covered include clinical lab assistant skills, medical terminology, anatomy, physiology and phlebotomy. Many employers prefer graduates from programs accredited by agencies such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science.
|Training Topics||Anatomy, phlebotomy, medical terminology, physiology|
|Certification||Exam given through the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science|
|Job Duties||Controlling infection, administrative tasks, slide and culture preparation, specimen collection|
|Median Salary (2018)||$52,330 (for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||13% growth (for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do I Need Certification?
Some, but not all, states require that clinical lab assistants be certified. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science offers the Clinical Lab Assistants (CLA) certification. To earn this certification, you must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, have completed an accredited training program that was under the supervision of a lab scientist and pass an exam.
What Would I Do as a Clinical Lab Assistant?
Clinical lab assistants are different from clinical lab technicians. Usually, technicians draw specimen samples from patients and assist in testing or otherwise investigating them. In contrast, assistants help technicians and other lab workers with their testing procedures.
As a clinical lab assistant, you work under the supervision of a physician or other lab personnel to gather, prepare and help them with their examination of specimens. However, you may not perform the examinations yourself, depending on the procedure. Generally, your main job tasks include performing lab and administrative tasks as necessary, such as preparing slides or cultures, collecting specimens and ensuring that the lab complies with all regulations and laws. You may also be responsible for controlling infections and ensuring the quality of specimens. You could work in a physician's office, research lab, clinic or hospital.