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Become A Laboratory Specialist

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Working As A Laboratory Specialist

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $64,930

    Average Salary

What Does A Laboratory Specialist Do

Medical laboratory technologists (commonly known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.

Duties

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Analyze body fluids, such as blood, urine, and tissue samples, and record normal or abnormal findings
  • Study blood samples for use in transfusions by identifying the number of cells, the cell morphology or the blood group, blood type, and compatibility with other blood types
  • Operate sophisticated laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and cell counters
  • Use automated equipment and computerized instruments capable of performing a number of tests at the same time
  • Log data from medical tests and enter results into a patient’s medical record
  • Discuss results and findings of laboratory tests and procedures with physicians
  • Supervise or train medical laboratory technicians

Both technicians and technologists perform tests and procedures that physicians and surgeons or other healthcare personnel order. However, technologists perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians do. For example, technologists may prepare specimens and perform detailed manual tests, whereas technicians perform routine tests that may be more automated. Medical laboratory technicians usually work under the general supervision of medical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers.

Technologists in small laboratories perform many types of tests; in large laboratories, they sometimes specialize. The following are examples of types of specialized medical laboratory technologists:

Blood bank technologists, or immunohematology technologists, collect blood, classify it by type, and prepare blood and its components for transfusions. 

Clinical chemistry technologists prepare specimens and analyze the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluids. 

Cytotechnologists prepare slides of body cells and examine these cells with a microscope for abnormalities that may signal the beginning of a cancerous growth. 

Immunology technologists examine elements of the human immune system and its response to foreign bodies. 

Microbiology technologists examine and identify bacteria and other microorganisms. 

Molecular biology technologists perform complex protein and nucleic acid tests on cell samples.

Like technologists, medical laboratory technicians may work in several areas of the laboratory or specialize in one particular area. For example, histotechnicians cut and stain tissue specimens for pathologists, who are doctors who study the cause and development of diseases at a microscopic level.

Technologists and technicians often specialize after they have worked in a particular area for a long time or have received advanced education or training in that area.

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How To Become A Laboratory Specialist

Medical laboratory technologists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Technicians usually need an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed.

Education

An entry-level job for technologists usually requires a bachelor's degree in medical technology or life sciences.

A bachelor’s degree program in medical laboratory technology, also known as a medical laboratory scientist degree, includes courses in chemistry, biology, microbiology, math, and statistics. Coursework emphasizes laboratory skills, including safety procedures and lab management.

The courses may be offered through a university or hospital-based program that students attend during their senior year of college. College graduates who major in other sciences and meet a program’s prerequisites, such as having completed required courses in biology and chemistry or maintaining a certain GPA, also may apply to a medical laboratory science program.

Medical laboratory technicians often complete an associate’s degree program in clinical laboratory science. A limited number of 1-year certificate programs are available from hospitals, and admission requirements vary. The Armed Forces and vocational or technical schools also may offer certificate programs for medical laboratory technicians. Technician coursework addresses the theoretical and practical aspects of each of the major laboratory disciplines.

High school students who are interested in pursuing a career in the medical laboratory sciences should take classes in chemistry, biology, and math.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed. Requirements vary by state and specialty. For specific requirements, contact state departments of health, state boards of occupational licensing, or visit The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.

Certification of medical laboratory technologists and technicians is required for licensure in some states. Although certification is not required to enter the occupation in all cases, employers typically prefer to hire certified technologists and technicians.

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians can obtain a general certification as a medical laboratory technologist or technician, respectively, or a certification in a specialty, such as cytotechnology or medical biology. Most credentialing institutions require that technologists complete an accredited education program in order to qualify to sit for an exam. For more credentialing information, visit the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Important Qualities

Ability to use technology. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must understand how to operate complex machinery.

Detail oriented. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must follow exact instructions in order to perform tests or procedures correctly.

Dexterity. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians need to be skilled with their hands. They work closely with needles and precise laboratory instruments and must handle these tools effectively.

Physical stamina. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians may work on their feet for long periods while collecting samples. They may need to lift or turn disabled patients to collect samples for testing.

Advancement

After additional education, work experience, or certification, technologists and technicians may specialize in one of many areas of laboratory science, such as immunology, histotechnology, or clinical chemistry. Some medical laboratory technicians advance to technologist positions after gaining experience and additional education.

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Laboratory Specialist jobs

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Laboratory Specialist Career Paths

Laboratory Specialist
Pharmacist Technician Technician Specialist
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Specialist Analyst Finance Analyst
Accounting Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Case Manager Clinical Manager
Director Of Clinical Operations
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Staff Scientist Laboratory Manager
Director Of Laboratory Services
11 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Operations Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Operations Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Pharmacist Technician Office Manager Human Resources Coordinator
Human Resources Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Principal Investigator Assistant Professor
Laboratory Director
10 Yearsyrs
Chemist Laboratory Supervisor
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Manufacturing Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Project Manager Program Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Scientist Group Leader
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Chemist Laboratory Manager Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Clinical Manager Practice Manager
Practice Administrator
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse Clinical Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Scientist Research Scientist Project Manager
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Laboratory Manager Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager General Manager
Property Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Construction Manager Operations Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Specialist Account Manager Account Executive
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Specialist 2.5 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 7.7%
Internship 7.2%
Supervisor 2.8%
Volunteer 2.4%
Top Employers After
Cashier 6.1%
Scientist 5.2%
Internship 5.1%
Manager 3.5%
Specialist 3.4%
Teacher 3.4%

Laboratory Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

51.0%

Male

46.0%

Unknown

3.0%
Ethnicity

White

74.6%

Hispanic or Latino

12.1%

Asian

10.0%

Unknown

2.6%

Black or African American

0.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.5%

Chinese

6.5%

French

6.5%

Mandarin

6.5%

German

5.6%

Cantonese

4.7%

Japanese

3.7%

Arabic

2.8%

Korean

2.8%

Italian

1.9%

Swedish

0.9%

Kurdish

0.9%

Indonesian

0.9%

Romanian

0.9%

Malay

0.9%

Venetian

0.9%

Hindi

0.9%

Polish

0.9%

Xiang

0.9%
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Laboratory Specialist Education

Schools

Virginia Commonwealth University

13.4%

University of Phoenix

10.9%

Full Sail University

10.4%

University of Virginia

5.9%

Arizona State University

5.0%

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

5.0%

George Washington University

4.5%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.5%

University of Kentucky

4.5%

Walden University

4.0%

Johns Hopkins University

4.0%

Michigan State University

3.5%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

3.5%

Liberty University

3.5%

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

3.0%

Community College of the Air Force

3.0%

Lamar University

3.0%

Old Dominion University

3.0%

University of Utah

3.0%

Florida State University

3.0%
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Majors

Biology

16.7%

Business

13.2%

Chemistry

10.3%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

6.0%

Criminal Justice

5.3%

Psychology

4.9%

Nursing

4.8%

Medical Technician

4.8%

Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science

4.3%

Electrical Engineering

3.3%

Health Care Administration

3.3%

General Studies

3.1%

Computer Science

2.9%

Medical Assisting Services

2.9%

Management

2.5%

Pharmacy

2.5%

Information Technology

2.5%

Public Health

2.3%

Education

2.3%

Communication

2.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.2%

Other

20.8%

Masters

20.4%

Associate

12.0%

Doctorate

4.0%

Certificate

3.8%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Laboratory Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Laboratory Specialist BP America Inc. Oregon, OH Jan 10, 2016 $108,000
Laboratory Specialist/Advisor Battelle Memorial Institute Atlanta, GA Jun 02, 2014 $84,720
Research Laboratory Specialist Lead University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Sep 01, 2014 $75,000
Lab Specialist Se Tylose USA, Inc. Totowa, NJ Jul 22, 2015 $74,000 -
$84,000
Research Lab Specialist St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Memphis, TN Aug 17, 2015 $64,584 -
$80,205
Research Lab Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Apr 29, 2015 $64,126
Research Lab Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Mar 01, 2014 $63,000
Laboratory Specialist Charles River Laboratories, Inc. Shrewsbury, MA Aug 25, 2016 $62,479
Research Lab Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Jun 02, 2014 $61,210
Laboratory Specialist Charles River Laboratories, Inc. Wilmington, MA Aug 23, 2015 $60,659
Research Laboratory Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Jan 09, 2016 $60,000
Research Laboratory Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Sep 01, 2016 $60,000
Research Lab Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Sep 08, 2014 $59,876
Lab Specialist Baylor Research Institute Dallas, TX Mar 26, 2016 $51,465 -
$84,878
Clinical Laboratory Specialist IV Creative Testing Solutions CA Jan 01, 2013 $51,272 -
$66,456
Clinical Laboratory Specialist III Creative Testing Solutions Saint Petersburg, FL Jan 01, 2013 $51,272 -
$64,230
Research Lab Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Aug 01, 2016 $46,990
Research Lab Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Jan 08, 2016 $46,990
Research Laboratory Specialist Associate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Jan 01, 2014 $46,588
Research Lab Specialist The University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA Jul 15, 2014 $46,301
Research Laboratory Specialist Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Aug 14, 2015 $45,800

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Top Skills for A Laboratory Specialist

PhotoLabEquipmentSafetyControlProceduresCustomerServiceSafetyInspectionsCellCultureChemistryTestResultsDNAPreventiveMaintenanceMolecularBiologyPhlebotomyPetroleumProductsRt-PcrSuperviseOshaPatientCareAstmHplcHematologyFirePrevention

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Top Laboratory Specialist Skills

  1. Photo Lab Equipment
  2. Safety Control Procedures
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Cash register operations and computer skills with photo lab equipment.
  • Applied fire prevention and safety control procedures in handling volatile products
  • Provide customer service and checkout services in both store and photo departments.
  • Conducted audits and safety inspections; prepared FDA and OSHA audit citation responses with corrective action.
  • Maintained several cell culture lines and performed experiments with cell cultures.

Top Laboratory Specialist Employers

Laboratory Specialist Videos

A day-in-the-life of a dental laboratory technician

Medical Laboratory Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

Exploring MLT Jobs and Salaries

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