Medical Laboratory Scientist Education and Career Pathways
If you are interested in becoming a medical laboratory scientist, then you need to meet the educational requirements that will enable you to advance your career and explore the various career pathways available.
Why Choose Medical Laboratory Scientist Career?
Here are some of the reasons you should choose the medical laboratory scientist career path:
- You can work anywhere.
- There are many different areas that you can specialize in.
- The job market for MLSs is growing at an average rate of 10% per year.
- It is a very flexible profession.
- You can earn good money.
- You get to learn new things every day.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Education Requirements
To be qualified to become a medical laboratory scientist, you must have completed a Bachelor’s degree with major coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, statistics, and computer science.
Some schools also require applicants to complete a minor in one of these subjects.
In addition, you need to pass a national certification exam called the National Board Exam (NBE). This is required by most employers.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Continuing Education
In order to keep your license current, you must take continuing education courses. These include courses such as blood banking, microbiology, molecular diagnostics, pathology, pharmacology, toxicology, etc. Most laboratories offer training programs for their staff members.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Certification/License
The NBE is administered by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and consists of two parts: Part I and II.
Both exams are given separately.
If you fail either part, you may retake it within six months. To obtain a license, you must pass both parts of the exam.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Career Pathways
There are several career pathways for a medical laboratory science. Some of them include:
- Biological Technician
A biological technician works closely with other technicians and scientists to perform routine tasks like preparing reagents, performing experiments, collecting specimens, analyzing data, and writing reports.
2. Biomedical Engineer
Biomedical engineers design equipment used in hospitals, clinics, and research labs. They help develop new technologies, improve existing ones, and test their effectiveness.
3. Clinical Research Associate
Clinical research associates conduct studies involving human participants. Their primary responsibility is to recruit patients, collect data from the patients, and analyze the data.
4. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound technology to examine internal organs and tissues. They do so by using high-frequency sound waves to create images of structures inside the body.
Histotechnologists prepare tissue samples for examination under a microscope. They extract cells or fluids from the sample, then stain the cells or fluid to make them easier to see.
- Molecular Geneticist
- Physician Assistant
- Radiologic Technologist
- Respiratory Therapist
- Immunohematology Technologist
- Microbiology Technologist
How to Advance your Medical Laboratory Scientist Career
If you want to advance your career as a medical laboratory scientist, there are many ways that you can do so. These include:
You should start by getting an undergraduate degree in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or any related subject.
Then you will need to get a Master’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science. You can also choose to specialize in one area of medicine.
For example, if you have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and would like to work in immunohematology, you could earn a Master’s degree in Hematology.
However, most people who enter into the field of medical laboratory science do not go on to earn advanced degrees.
Certification is another way to advance your career in the field of medical laboratory sciences.
There are various certifications available including those offered by ASCLS, CLIA, CAP, and others.
These certifications provide a way for you to demonstrate your expertise in certain areas. In addition, they can be useful when applying for jobs.
The more experience you have in the field of medical lab science, the better off you will be.
This includes having worked as a medical technologist at a hospital or clinic, working as a clinical laboratory manager, or even just volunteering at a local blood bank.
Networking is very important in advancing your career in the field. Start by joining professional organizations such as ASCLS, CLINICALLABORATORIES.COM, and others.
Next, join groups on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Finally, reach out to other professionals in the field and ask them about job opportunities.
Volunteering is another great way to gain experience in the field of medical labs. Many hospitals offer volunteer positions where you can help with testing and processing specimens.
You may also find volunteer opportunities through community colleges, universities, and other places.
How to find a Good Medical Laboratory Scientist School
To find a good school to begin your medical laboratory science career, it helps to first understand what makes a good school. Here are some things to consider:
It is important to look for schools near where you live. It will make it easier for you to commute to classes and participate in activities.
2. Tuition Fees
It is always best to attend a school that has low tuition fees. This means that you won’t have to spend too much money each year.
Accreditation is another factor to consider when choosing a school. Look for accredited schools so you will receive high quality education.
Faculty members play a big role in determining whether a school is good or bad. They must be qualified and experienced.
The faculty members must also be able to teach students how to perform tests properly.
5. Student-to-Faculty Ratio
A student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1 or less is usually considered ideal. However, this varies from school to school. Some schools have higher ratios than others.
6. Class Size
Class size should not exceed 20 students. Smaller class sizes mean that there will be fewer distractions during lectures.
What does a Medical Laboratory Scientist do?
The primary function of a medical laboratory scientist is to perform analytical testing procedures on biological specimens.
Examples of these tests include blood counts, urinalysis, stool analysis, and other types of chemical analyses.
There are two main categories of laboratory technicians:
- Clinical laboratory scientists
- Hospital laboratory scientists
The difference between them is that clinical laboratory scientists work in hospitals and clinics while hospital laboratory scientists work in laboratories within larger health care facilities.
Both types of lab techs perform similar tasks but they do it differently.
Qualities of a Good Medical Laboratory Scientist
Here are some qualities that you need to possess if you want to become a good medical laboratory scientist:
You need to have knowledge about chemistry, biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, statistics, pharmacology, and many more topics related to the field of medicine.
You need to have skills in performing various laboratory tests. These tests may include blood counts, urine analysis, stool analysis, etc.
You need to have an attitude of being helpful and friendly towards patients, co-workers, and clients.
4. Communication skills
You need to be able to communicate effectively with people who come into contact with you.
For example, you need to be able to explain your findings to doctors, nurses, and patients.
5. Computer skills
You need to know how to use computers well enough to complete daily tasks such as entering data, searching databases, and analyzing results.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Salary
As of February 25, 2022, the average salary for clinical laboratory scientist in the United States is $74673, according to Salary.com, however the compensation range often goes between $60362 and $85,682.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical laboratory scientists was $61,870 in May 2014.
In addition, BLS states that the employment outlook for this job is expected to grow by 23% through 2024.
This means that the number of jobs available for medical laboratory scientists will increase over time.
A medical laboratory scientist is responsible for carrying out various laboratory tests on human or animal tissue samples.
The most common test performed by medical laboratory scientists is blood count which involves counting red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
If you choose to pursue a career as a medical laboratory scientist, then make sure that you take all necessary steps to prepare yourself to meet the educational requirements and advance in your career.