Student Mentoring Program

Do you have a question about a career in laboratory science? GB365 sponsor, COLA, has set up an email address to help connect students considering or currently pursuing a MLT or MLS degree with professionals in the industry that can help answer their questions. Additionally, you can find a mentor from our Mentor Directory.

Are you an expert in your industry? Volunteer to be a mentor today.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Clinical Laboratory Technician/ Clinical Laboratory Scientist? Can we have a Career Overview?

Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS), also referred to as Medical Technologists (MT) and Clinical Laboratory Technicians (CLT), also referred to as Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT) are some of many exciting and rewarding medical laboratory careers. CLT/CLS perform a variety of tasks including everything from simple pre-marital blood tests, to more complex tests searching for clues to the absence, presence, extent, and causes of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancer. This skilled individual is responsible for performing laboratory tests efficiently and accurately for high-quality patient care.  Although CLT/CLS do not often interact directly with patients, the work they perform directly impacts patients’ lives.  Physicians rely on the information provided by CLT/CLS to determine the diagnosis and treatment of their patients.

CLT/CLS perform waived, moderate, and high complexity diagnostic laboratory testing on blood and body fluids. Testing is performed in the areas of immunology, serology, hematology, chemistry, microbiology and immunohematology. CLT/CLS analyze specimens of human blood and tissue under a microscope to look for bacteria, parasites, cancerous cells, or other microorganisms. They match blood for transfusions, check blood levels for chemicals, drugs, or other factors. Additionally, CLT/CLS operate high-powered microscopes, cell counters, complex electronic equipment, computers, and precision instruments. CLT/CLS may also perform sample collection procedures by vein puncture or capillary puncture.

What is the difference between a Clinical Laboratory Technician (CLT) and Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS)?

Clinical Laboratory Technicians (CLT) have associate degrees (2-year degree), while Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS) have baccalaureate degrees (4-year degree). The laboratory work performed by these professionals is similar, but laboratory technicians focus on collecting, processing and analyzing biological specimens; performing laboratory procedures; maintaining instruments; and relating findings to common diseases or conditions.

Clinical Laboratory Scientists have many similar responsibilities, but because they have a more extensive theoretical knowledge base, they conduct more advanced testing, such as molecular diagnostics and highly involved microbiological and cross-matching blood tests. They also evaluate and interpret laboratory results, integrate data, solve problems, consult with physicians, conduct research and evaluate new test methods. Clinical Laboratory Scientists also are more likely to advance to management positions.

Why should I become a Laboratory Scientist?

  • It’s a meaningful, important job – Quality healthcare relies on well-educated and trained laboratory professionals. Without the help of the laboratory scientist, the rest of the healthcare team is operating ‘blind,’ as doctors rely on laboratory results and the judgment of laboratory professionals to decide how to treat patients.
  • Ability to move up the career ladder. – The opportunity for advancement or change is plentiful for a laboratory scientist. You may start as a bench technologist; move up to lab management and even to administration. If you choose to do so, laboratory scientists also have the ability to move out of the traditional patient care arena and work for companies manufacturing and selling lab products and technology, or into academia, for example.
  • Laboratory professionals are needed everywhere – Whether you want to live by a beach in California, close to the big cities in the Northeast or somewhere in between, laboratory professionals are in demand from coast to coast. A laboratory professional can even get a taste of the country by becoming a traveling technologist and moving from place to place.
  • Job stability – Lab professionals have stability mainly because clinicians will always need testing performed for their patients.
  • Versatility – There are an amazing amount of modalities that exist within the laboratory field. You could chose to be a generalist and dabble in them all, or become a specialist and focus on Blood Bank, Microbiology, Hematology, Chemistry or other areas.
  • Flexibility – Due to the variety of work environments you can be employed in as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist, you have the flexibility to work day, mid-day or evening shift. Clinical Laboratory Scientist is an excellent field for working parents, as there’s always a job opportunity that works around your life’s schedule.
  • You can impact patients without the face-to-face interaction – The work of a Clinical Laboratory Scientist is done ‘behind the scenes’ but is still connected to the patients. If direct patient interaction is not for you, but you still want to have a rewarding career in medicine, a laboratory carerer might be for you.

Where can I work with a degree in Laboratory Science?

Although the likelihood of finding a position in a clinical laboratory varies, depending on the geographic region, professionals in this field can find challenging employment in a wide range of arenas. For instance, among other settings, clinical laboratory professionals can work in:

  • Hospital clinical laboratories
  • Physician office laboratories
  • Commercial or reference laboratories
  • Public health laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical or chemical industries
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Forensic and law enforcement laboratories
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Research and teaching institutions
  • Transplant and blood donor centers
  • Fertility clinics
  • The cosmetic or food industry
  • Accreditation Organizations

What is the demand for a CLT/CLS in the work place?

According to the Department of Labor Statistics, employment of Clinical Laboratory Scientist and Technicians is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Over 50% of Clinical Laboratory Scientist and Technicians were employed by hospitals as of 2012, while the rest worked in laboratories, physicians’ offices, or colleges and universities. An increase in the aging population will lead to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes through laboratory procedures.

What salary can I expect?

Typically, Clinical Laboratory Technicians earn an average salary of $45,000 to $50,000 per year, while the average for Clinical Laboratory Scientists is between $55,000 and $60,000 per year. Wages may vary by region.

Is there a personal health risk to working in a clinical lab?

Exposure to disease is an occupational risk for workers in many health related professions. Clinical staff are required to be vaccinated to HBV, are taught standard precautionary measures and the use of personal protective devices.

What courses should I take in high school to prepare for the Laboratory Scientist program?

Because the CLT/CLS curriculum is based in science and math, students should take courses in key subjects such as biology, chemistry, math, and computer sciences.

What are the Educational and Training Requirements for Clinical Laboratory Technician?

A CLT career requires at least an associate’s degree, preferably in an applicable science such as biology, microbiology or chemistry. Although Clinical Laboratory Technicians may be trained on the job, most receive formal education through a certificate or associate’s degree program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

How long will the CLT program take to complete?

Entry level Clinical Laboratory Technician positions require an associate degree from a school accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). CLT programs are designed to be completed in two years but alternative scheduling is available for the part-time student. Students take both general education courses and professional courses each semester.

What kind of Certification and or Licensure does a Clinical Laboratory Technician need?

CLT certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or American Medical Technologists (AMT) is required in order to be employed as a Clinical Laboratory Technician in most states. In addition to the national certification, several states also require a state license in order to perform testing.

What are the Educational and Training Requirements for Clinical Laboratory Scientist?

A CLS career requires at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in an applicable science such as biology, microbiology or biochemistry. Additionally, the completion of clinical and technical training in a CLS program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency of Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) is also required in most states.

How long will the CLS program take to complete?

Entry level Clinical Laboratory Scientist position requires a bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). CLS programs are designed to be completed in four years but alternative scheduling is available for the part-time student. The first two years focus on foundation subjects; by the third year, coursework will primarily consist of clinical laboratory professional subjects. In the final year, students will begin clinical internships, rotating through different sections of the clinical laboratory.

What kind of Certification and or Licensure does a Clinical Laboratory Scientist need?

For optimum success, CLS should become nationally certified in their field after completing all of the educational and training requirements. ASCP offers a national certification exam that should be renewed every three years. This certifies that you are proficient in your field and allows you to use the initials CLS (ASCP) after your name. In addition to the national certification, several states also require a state license in order to perform testing.

Is obtaining an education in Clinical Laboratory Science affordable?

Obtaining an education as a CLT/CLS can be costly, but there are a few ways to work around some of the expenses. There are scholarship and grant opportunities available to students seeking a degree in laboratory science. You may opt to attend an online CLT/CLS program and/or opt to complete your education part-time. Attending school online and/or part-time allow you to maintain a regular job while attending school. In addition, you may save money by purchasing some of your course books online.

Where is the closest CLT/CLS program to me?

You can find a list of NAACLS approved schools in your area by visiting the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) website.

http://www.naacls.org/search/programs.asp

Can I complete a CLT/CLS program online?

Yes, there are several online schools that offer both CLT and CLS degrees.

Can I be a part time student?

Yes CLT and CLS programs can be completed on a part-time basis; this route would require more time to complete the program.

Is the program difficult?

The program requires a good foundation in science and math. These courses are more difficult for some but less difficult for others.

Can I further my education in Clinical Laboratory Science?

CLS who wish to expand on their undergraduate education can enter into a two-year Master of Science program or a four year Doctorate of Science program. Graduate students typically select an area of specialization, such as microbiology, immunology or molecular genetics, and conduct advanced research and analysis.

Master’s programs in laboratory science typically require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in biology or clinical laboratory science, the curriculum for which should have included 12-15 months of clinical training. Some programs also require ASCP certification, though oftentimes students are permitted to complete certification during the first year of their graduate studies.

Doctorate’s programs in laboratory science are designed for the ASCP certified Clinical Laboratory Scientist with an interest in advancing theoretical and clinical learning, practice, and research.

Graduate programs in laboratory science emphasize independent research that is specific to a student’s area of specialization. In addition to this research, students may complete courses in the following:

  • Enzymology
  • Virology
  • Protein chemistry
  • Healthcare financial operations
  • Computer-based instrumentation

Graduates of master’s programs and doctorate’s programs in laboratory science typically work as lab managers, senior researchers and clinical supervisors. They are often employed by government agencies, like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or environmental research firms specializing in virology. Because many graduate programs include business courses, some graduates open their own research facilities or work as consultants to pharmaceutical or medical supply firms.

Are there any scholarships available to laboratory science students?

There are several organizations that offer scholarships to students seeking a career in laboratory science. You may find that your school advisor is an excellent resource when trying to find scholarship opportunities. GB365 also offers scholarships to students enrolled in a CLT/CLS program. To find more information on the GB365 scholarship program, visit our Scholarship Page.