Jobs in Clinical Chemistry: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in clinical chemistry. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is Clinical Chemsitry?

Clinical chemistry involves the testing of different chemicals in the body to help determine overall health. In this field, you could work as either a clinical laboratory technician or the more advanced clinical laboratory technologist. In these jobs, you would run analytical experiments on the blood and tissue samples of patients for diagnostic or academic research purposes. For instance, you could perform tests to measure an individual's levels of hormones, electrolytes, iron, proteins and other chemicals found in the body. A technologist runs complex, manual tests, while a technician usually performs routine tests. Doctors and veterinarians use clinical chemistry to help identify diseases and develop treatment strategies. Medical scientists could also use your findings to advance knowledge in the field. It is important to note that clinical laboratory technologists may also play a supervisory role in the lab.

Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career in clinical chemistry is right for you.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree for medical laboratory technologists; technicians need an associate's degree or postsecondary certificate
Education Field of Study Chemistry, biology, mathematics, and statistics
Key Skills Ability to use technology, detail oriented, dexterity, and physical stamina
Licensure or Certification Required Varies state to state
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $60,520 for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists; $38,970 for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Jobs Are There?

The jobs in clinical chemistry run the gamut, according to American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), a professional organization for clinical chemistry professionals ( For example, a clinical chemist could be a laboratory assistant, technician or a doctor running a research laboratory. Assistants and technicians typically perform routine tests while medical technologists participate in testing and research. Chemistry supervisors manage the laboratory and scientists, whereas directors work with doctors and may lead research efforts, according to the AACC.

How Can I Prepare?

If you're interested in a career in clinical chemistry, start focusing on math and science while in high school. The AACC also recommends looking at summer internships to get experience. Preparation also includes getting an education beyond high school.

The type of higher education you need depends on what clinical chemistry job you want. For example, assistants and technicians typically need vocational training or an associate's degree, according to AACC. Associate's degree programs are available in clinical laboratory science or medical laboratory science, and typically include chemistry, medical and clinical chemistry coursework.

Technicians may have to be licensed. Check with your state for details. Medical technologists typically need a bachelor's degree in a clinical science field, such as medical laboratory science. Licensing is granted by the state in which a technologist works.

The AACC noted that if you're interested in becoming a laboratory supervisor, a master's degree may be needed. Master's degree programs are available in several related areas, such as chemistry, clinical chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry and clinical laboratory science. Finally, resident and fellowship training programs at medical schools are open to those with a doctorate degree pursuing careers in clinical chemistry research. Such programs are often combined with pathology, which is the study of disease. These jobs mentioned above also require licensing.

Several organizations offer voluntary certification for professionals in clinical chemistry careers, including the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, the American Board of Clinical Chemistry and the American Medical Technologists.

How Much Could I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that median wages for most medical and clinical laboratory technicians was $38,970 as of May 2015 ( At the same time, the BLS reported that most medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned a median salary of $60,520. In May 2015, the BLS estimated that most medical scientists earned a median wage of $82,240. Job growth for laboratory technicians and technologists between 2014 and 2024 is projected to be 16%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are looking for a laboratory technician position, you could also consider becoming a chemical technician in a different type of chemistry lab, such as a physical chemistry lab or an organic chemistry lab. In these labs, you would be responsible for assisting with experiments and maintaining lab equipment. Chemical technicians need at least an associate's degree to get a job. Alternatively, you could work as a biological technician, helping with experiments in a research lab that focuses specifically on the life sciences. This job usually requires a bachelor's degree. Veterinary technicians and technologists often perform diagnostic tests on animals to help in veterinary offices; the technicians require an associate degree, and the technologists a bachelor's degree.

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