Clinical Laboratory Science Majors: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a degree in clinical laboratory science. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary, licensure, and certification information. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can You Do With a Major in Clinical Laboratory Science?

Clinical laboratory scientists conduct tests on specimens to aid in diagnosis and medical research. There are a number of job options one could pursue with an undergraduate or graduate degree in clinical laboratory science, such as medical and clinical laboratory technician, ambulatory technician, and medical and clinical laboratory scientist.

Laboratory technicians analyze different samples (blood, urine, tissues, etc.) and record the results for medical purposes on a patient's records. Phlebotomists are responsible for actually collecting such blood samples from patients, labeling them and sending them off to the lab for processing. Laboratory scientists conduct advanced medical research for a number of goals, such as curing diseases and developing new procedures, as well as analyzing material samples for doctors.

Regardless of the path you choose, many degrees include internship opportunities to build real skills during your time at school, better preparing you for your chosen career. See the table below for some career facts on these careers and the degree.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians Phlebotomist Medical and Clinical Laboratory Scientist
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Postsecondary Certificate Doctorate
Education Field of Study Clinical laboratory science, medical technology or life sciences Phlebotomy Clinical laboratory science
Licensure/Certification State license requirements vary; voluntary certification available Licensure required by four states; voluntary certification preferred by employers in all other states License required if administering medicine; voluntary certification available
Key Responsibilities Assist laboratory scientists; test medical specimens; maintain laboratory equipment Collect blood; label vials for processing; calm nervous patients Conduct medical research; apply for funding; analyze medical samples
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18%* 25% * 8% (for all medical scientists, except epidemiologists)*
Median Salary (2015) $38,970* $31,630 * $82,240 (for all medical scientists, except epidemiologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Clinical Laboratory Science Major?

The clinical laboratory science major is a field of study that prepares students for a career testing medical specimens and assisting in medical research at public and private facilities, including hospitals. Colleges across the country offer a bachelor's degree program in clinical laboratory science. This bachelor's degree program typically takes four years to complete and includes coursework in chemistry, biology, and statistics. Programs may be offered online or in traditional classroom settings.

What Jobs Can I Do?

According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, a clinical laboratory science graduate can work as a medical technologist or clinical laboratory scientist, performing lab tests on specimens (www.ascp.org). Specialties include immunology, infection control or hematology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in each of these specialties, you would be responsible for testing medical specimens and looking for chemical reactions, medical abnormalities, or the existence of microorganisms (www.bls.gov). At a more advanced level, you could become an academic research scientist, where you would conduct studies in a particular area of interest within the field of medicine. Alternatively, you could consider becoming a phlebotomist, where you would draw blood from patients and blood donors and prepare it for processing.

How Much Can I Earn?

Your earning potential depends on several factors, including the state and the industry you work in. In 2015, according to the BLS, medical and clinical laboratory technicians in general medical and surgical hospitals earned an average of $20.20 per hour, while phlebotomists in medical and diagnostic laboratories earned $16.16 per hour. In Rhode Island, the top-paying state for 2015, there were 380 clinical and laboratory technicians employed in 2015 and the average hourly wage was $28.43. For Vermont, the second top-paying state where 310 individuals worked as lab technicians, the BLS reported an average hourly pay of $26.47.

What Is Required in Addition to Classroom Learning?

While you're in school, your program may require hands-on learning through an internship at a selected hospital. This internship may last as long as 12 months. Upon graduation from an accredited clinical laboratory science degree program, you can voluntarily seek certification. Certification is offered through professional organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification (ASCP). Initial certification is valid for three years. After that, you'll have to recertify, through the ASCP certification maintenance program. According to the BLS, employers prefer graduates with a certification from a professional organization.

What Are Some Related Careers?

Similar to medical and clinical lab technicians, biological and chemical technicians assist biologists and chemists in their lab duties, analyzing materials, synthesizing chemicals, performing tests. You will only need a bachelor's or associate's degree (respectively) to find employment in these careers. Medical and clinical laboratory scientists have much in common with other kinds of medical scientists, such as clinical and medical informaticians, who develop new and more effective techniques to use statistics in the medical field. You may need to specialize your doctorate in a different field for this career, however.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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