What Does a Medical Laboratory Scientist Do?

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What Does a Medical Laboratory Scientist Do?

A medical laboratory scientist, also known as a medical laboratory technician, is a highly skilled professional who performs a wide range of functions related to the analysis of body tissues and fluids. They work behind the scenes in laboratories, using various techniques to look for abnormalities and diseases, and to ensure the health and safety of patients.

In a typical day, a medical laboratory scientist may perform tests on blood, urine, and other bodily fluids to diagnose diseases, monitor the effectiveness of treatments, and evaluate organ function. They may also collect and analyze samples from donors for transfusion purposes. These professionals are trained to operate and maintain laboratory equipment, perform quality control checks, and review test results for accuracy and completeness.



To become a medical laboratory scientist, one must complete a bachelor’s degree program in medical laboratory sciences or a related field. This program typically includes coursework in biology, chemistry, and other sciences, as well as clinical rotations in a variety of laboratory settings. After completing the program, graduates must pass a certification exam administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or a similar board.

Once certified, medical laboratory scientists have a wide range of career opportunities available to them. They can work in hospitals, clinics, research laboratories, and public health agencies. They may specialize in areas such as microbiology, hematology, or immunology, depending on their interests and the needs of their employer. Some medical laboratory scientists also choose to further their education and become medical laboratory technologists, which requires additional coursework and a higher level of certification.

The outlook for medical laboratory scientists is very positive, with a projected job growth rate of 11% from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth is due to the increasing demand for medical testing and the development of new laboratory techniques. As the population continues to age and the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer increases, there will be a greater need for skilled professionals to perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results.

What Does a Medical Laboratory Scientist Do?

A medical laboratory scientist, also known as a medical technologist, is a healthcare professional who performs laboratory tests on patient samples to help diagnose and treat diseases. They work in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, research laboratories, and public health agencies.



Medical laboratory scientists are responsible for performing and interpreting a variety of laboratory tests, including blood tests, urine tests, and tissue samples. They use specialized equipment and techniques to analyze samples and obtain accurate results. These tests can help detect diseases, monitor the effectiveness of treatments, and provide valuable information for healthcare providers.

To become a medical laboratory scientist, individuals must complete a bachelor’s degree program in medical laboratory science or a related field. These programs typically include coursework in biology, chemistry, microbiology, and mathematics, as well as hands-on laboratory experience.

Job Description and Career Path

Once individuals have obtained their degree, they can become certified as medical laboratory scientists by passing a national certification exam. This certification is often required by employers and demonstrates that individuals have met the necessary standards of competency in the field.

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Medical laboratory scientists can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, research laboratories, and public health agencies. They may specialize in a particular area of laboratory science, such as microbiology, hematology, or immunology.

Medical laboratory scientists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy and reliability of test results. They must follow strict protocols and quality control procedures to ensure that tests are performed correctly. They also need to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in laboratory science and technology.

In addition to performing laboratory tests, medical laboratory scientists may also be involved in research and development, quality assurance, and teaching. They may work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to interpret test results and provide valuable insights into patient care.

Career Growth and Salary

The demand for medical laboratory scientists is expected to increase in the coming years, driven by factors such as an aging population and advances in medical technology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical laboratory scientists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.

The median annual wage for medical laboratory scientists was $54,180 in May 2020. However, salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the type of employer.

Medical laboratory scientists may also have opportunities for career advancement, such as becoming laboratory managers or moving into research or teaching positions. Continuing education and professional development are important for staying current in the field and increasing job prospects.

Job Description and Career Path

Medical Laboratory Scientists, also known as Medical Laboratory Technicians or Clinical Laboratory Scientists, play a crucial role in the healthcare industry. They are responsible for performing a wide range of laboratory tests and procedures to help diagnose and treat diseases.

Medical Laboratory Scientists work behind the scenes in a laboratory environment, analyzing samples such as blood, urine, and tissue. They use various laboratory equipment and technology to conduct tests and interpret the results. These tests can help detect diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and infections.

To become a Medical Laboratory Scientist, you must have a strong educational background. Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science or a related field. The coursework typically includes subjects like microbiology, chemistry, and anatomy. Some programs may also require clinical rotations or internships to gain hands-on experience.

After completing the necessary education, aspiring Medical Laboratory Scientists must obtain certification. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) certification, which is widely recognized in the United States. To obtain this certification, candidates must pass a comprehensive exam.

Career growth opportunities for Medical Laboratory Scientists are promising. The demand for qualified professionals in this field is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to factors such as an aging population, advances in medical technology, and the need for accurate and timely diagnostic tests.

Medical Laboratory Scientists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, research laboratories, and public health agencies. They may also choose to specialize in a specific area, such as microbiology or genetics. Specialization can lead to higher salaries and career advancement opportunities.

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In addition to the traditional career path, there are alternative options for Medical Laboratory Scientists. Some may choose to work as educators, teaching future generations of laboratory professionals. Others may pursue roles in laboratory management or quality assurance.

To stay current in their field, Medical Laboratory Scientists must continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and techniques. They may attend conferences, workshops, or take additional coursework to expand their knowledge and skills.

In summary, Medical Laboratory Scientists play a vital role in the healthcare industry. They perform laboratory tests and procedures to help diagnose and treat diseases. With the right education and certification, individuals can pursue a rewarding career in this field with opportunities for growth and specialization.

Academic Requirements

Medical laboratory scientists play a vital role in the healthcare industry, working behind the scenes to help diagnose and treat patients. To become a medical laboratory scientist, individuals must meet specific academic requirements.

Most employers require medical laboratory scientists to have a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science or a related field. These programs typically include coursework in biology, chemistry, microbiology, and other sciences. Some programs may also require coursework in mathematics, statistics, and computer science.

In addition to completing the necessary coursework, aspiring medical laboratory scientists must also complete a clinical internship or practicum. During this hands-on training, students will work in a medical laboratory under the supervision of experienced professionals. This internship provides valuable real-world experience and allows students to apply their knowledge in a professional setting.

After completing their education and internship, individuals may need to obtain certification or licensure, depending on the state in which they plan to practice. Certification is typically offered by professional organizations, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA). Licensure requirements vary by state, so it’s important for aspiring medical laboratory scientists to research the specific requirements in their state.

Continuing education is also important for medical laboratory scientists to stay current in their field. Many states require medical laboratory scientists to complete a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain their certification or licensure. These credits can be earned through workshops, conferences, online courses, or other approved educational activities.

Overall, becoming a medical laboratory scientist requires a commitment to education and ongoing professional development. By meeting the necessary academic requirements and staying current in their field, medical laboratory scientists can ensure they have the knowledge and skills to provide high-quality healthcare services.

FAQ

What is a medical laboratory scientist?

A medical laboratory scientist is a healthcare professional who performs laboratory tests on patient samples to help diagnose and treat diseases.

What are the educational requirements to become a medical laboratory scientist?

To become a medical laboratory scientist, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science or a related field. Some states may also require you to be licensed or certified.

What does a medical laboratory scientist do on a daily basis?

A medical laboratory scientist performs a variety of tasks, including analyzing samples, conducting tests, interpreting results, and maintaining laboratory equipment. They may also collaborate with other healthcare professionals to discuss patient cases and provide accurate and timely test results.

What skills are required to be a successful medical laboratory scientist?

Some important skills for a medical laboratory scientist include attention to detail, critical thinking, problem-solving, technical proficiency, and good communication skills. They should also have a strong understanding of laboratory procedures and safety protocols.

What career path can a medical laboratory scientist pursue?

A medical laboratory scientist can pursue various career paths within the field of laboratory medicine. They may choose to specialize in a specific area, such as hematology, microbiology, or clinical chemistry. They can also advance to supervisory or management roles, or pursue further education to become a laboratory director or researcher.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.