What Are Some Career Options in the Laboratory Sciences?

People seeking a career in the laboratory sciences can work in a number of jobs, including as clinical laboratory technologists or clinical laboratory technicians. Professionals in the laboratory sciences work to diagnose and detect disease through a variety of procedures. Read on for more information. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Laboratory Sciences Overview

One area of specialization in the laboratory sciences is in clinical laboratory sciences, which is an allied health profession. Professionals working in this field perform laboratory procedures that enable physicians to detect, diagnose and treat disease. Duties performed include the analysis of bodily fluids and cells, blood typing, microorganisms screening, cell counts and chemical analysis. A laboratory sciences professional working in a small lab will often perform many different kinds of duties, while laboratory sciences professionals working in large labs often specialize in specific areas. Clinical laboratory technologists and clinical laboratory technicians, who are also known as medical laboratory technicians or medical technicians, perform most clinical laboratory science work, although other laboratory fields include biological technicians, forensic science technicians and medical scientists.

Important Facts About Career Options in the Laboratory Sciences

Medical & clinical laboratory technologists & technicians Biological technicians Forensic science technicians Medical scientists
Median Salary (2014) $49,310 $41,290 $55,360 $79,930
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% 5% 27% 8%
Work Environment Full-time with possible evening, weekend, or overnight Typically full-time Primarily full-time, but may be on-call depending upon caseload Full-time
Similar Occupations Chemical technicians; veterinary technologists and techniciansBiochemists; biophysicists; environmental science and protection technicians; microbiologists Chemical technicians; hazardous materials removal workers; police officers; detectives Agricultural and food scientists; microbiologists; physicians; surgeons

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Clinical Laboratory Technologists

A clinical laboratory technologist performs complex chemical and biological tests. Clinical laboratory technologists will examine blood and other bodily fluids to determine the presence of fungi, bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms. Clinical laboratory technologists will analyze samples for chemical content or chemical reactions. A clinical laboratory technologist often works in blood banking, typing and cross matching blood samples used for transfusions.

Clinical Laboratory Technicians

Clinical laboratory technicians perform less complex tasks than a clinical laboratory technologist. The clinical laboratory technician prepares specimens and operates automated analyzers, or performing manual tests in accordance with specific instructions. They typically work while supervised by a clinical laboratory technologist. The clinical laboratory technician may work in several areas of a clinical laboratory, or may specialize in a certain area.

Biological and Forensic Science Technicians

Like clinical laboratory technicians and technologists, workers in these specialties typically hold a bachelor's degree. Those in forensic science often have degrees in chemistry or biology. The kinds of tests these workers perform are similar to those performed for clinical or medical research. In the case of forensic technicians, they're looking for evidence pertaining to crime or suspected criminal activity.

Medical Scientists

In contrast to the careers discussed above, medical scientist positions typically require workers to hold a Ph.D., although some in the field have a medical degree instead. Often, medical scientists are responsible for designing the experiments performed by clinical and medical laboratory technologists and technicians. Medical scientists also supervise the work of technicians and technologists and draft reports regarding their findings.

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