Clinical and Medical Laboratory Sciences

Learn how you can prepare for a career in clinical and medical laboratory sciences, including what types of certificate and degree programs are required for entry-level positions. Read on to find out more about job growth, earnings and licensing requirements for lab technicians and technologists.

Are Clinical and Medical Laboratory Sciences for Me?

Career Overview

Professionals who work in clinical and medical laboratory sciences determine how bacteria, viruses and other pathogens affect the human body. Their primary responsibilities include examining samples of body fluids to identify the presence of disease and infection. Clinical and laboratory science specialists are usually employed as medical laboratory technicians or lab technologists. While technicians collect samples and conduct automated analysis procedures, technologists perform more complex tasks, such as analyzing the chemicals found in specimens, developing laboratory procedures or supervising technicians.

Career Options and Job Duties

As a technician, you may pursue a position as a phlebotomist or histotechnologist. Phlebotomists collect samples from patients for examination and analysis, stain the specimens and prepare them for review by a pathologist. Whether you're employed as a technician or technologist, you'll work with sophisticated machines, such as microscopes, centrifuges and x-ray equipment. An understanding of the standards set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can help you limit your exposure to bio-hazardous materials.

Employment and Salary Information

Based upon information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of clinical and medical laboratory technicians was projected to increase by a much-faster-than-average rate of 30% nationwide from 2012-2022; technologists can expect an average growth in jobs of 14% during the same period. As of May 2013, clinical and medical laboratory technologists earned an average annual salary of $59,460, while technicians made an average of $40,240 a year (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Clinical and Medical Laboratory Services?

Education

A certificate or an associate's degree in a relevant area of study is usually required to obtain an entry-level job as a technician; technologists typically need a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate programs in life science, medical technology or other closely related majors can be found at a number of colleges and universities. They can lead to an Associate of Applied Science in Histotechnology, a Bachelor of Science in Biology or a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology. In addition to a formal education, lab technicians and technologists receive on-the-job training.

Histotechnology programs can include courses in chemistry, physiology and lab technology. Training in histology may also be part of a degree program in medical technology, along with topics in biology, genetics, anatomy and virology. Many programs require a for-credit internship or clinical practicum at a participating hospital or medical facility, which can take up to one year to complete. A bachelor's degree in biology or another life science may help you qualify for a post-baccalaureate certificate program.

Licensing and Registration

Some states require clinical and medical laboratory professionals to be licensed or registered. Requirements can include a bachelor's degree in a relevant area; contact your state's board of occupational licensing for more information.

Related Articles for Clinical and Medical Laboratory Sciences

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Related Videos

  • What is Histotechnology? - Video

    Sometimes known as medical laboratory science or medical laboratory technology, Histotechnology is a sub-specialty within the field of biomedical science. Students who study Histotechnology typically find work in hospitals or clinical pathology labs. Learn more about Histotechnology here.
  • What is Phlebotomy? - Video

    Phlebotomy is a fancy medical term used to describe the act of drawing blood from a vein. People who are trained to collect blood in a clinical setting are known as phlebotomists.
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