How to Become a Medical Laboratory Scientist

HealthcareDecember 14, 2013

A medical laboratory scientist, or medical laboratory technologist, is someone who works in a laboratory conducting tests on and examining blood, cells, tissue and other substances. This is an excellent profession for someone who sees the world through scientific eyes, and would like to contribute to the medical field, but doesn't necessarily like to interact with patients. This article discusses the job duties, salary expectations and educational requirements of this career.

The medical laboratory scientist spends his or her days primarily in a hospital or clinical laboratory. Technologists may use automated equipment, or rely on their expertise to perform tests manually, depending on the physician's orders. Not only will they be familiar with different types of laboratory equipment, but they will also be familiar with patient privacy rules, and state and federal requirements for reporting and documenting results (often in electronic format). But patient care is not the only avenue for a scientist. There is a plethora of opportunities for individuals in this field to work in research laboratories, perfecting scientific methods and helping to advance the medical field through their work.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job field is expected to grow thirteen percent through the year 2020, which is about the average rate as compared to other professions. The BLS also lists the median pay for this job as slightly less than $47,000 per year nationally.

To begin a career as a medical laboratory scientist, you will need to graduate from a four-year accredited program, and you may be required to seek certification, depending on the state in which you will work. If a four-year degree seems like more than you can afford in terms of both money and time, then perhaps you should consider pursuing a two-year associate degree as a medical laboratory technician. The tehnician's pay is slightly lower, but much of the work will be the same, and you may be able to enter the workforce much more quickly. The hands-on experience will also make it easier to pursue a four-year degree in the future if you decide you'd like to become a manager or even teach other technicians about this job.

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