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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

  • $43,985

    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
Security Officer Sales Consultant Personal Banker
Bank Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Nurse Assistant Professor Laboratory Director
Director Of Laboratory Operations
15 Yearsyrs
Chemist Laboratory Manager
Director Of Laboratory Services
13 Yearsyrs
Scientist Adjunct Professor Senior Software Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Research Technician Quality Control Technician Production Supervisor
General Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Specialist Information Technology Specialist
Information Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Instructor Assistant Professor Laboratory Director
Laboratory Administrative Director
13 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Director
10 Yearsyrs
Pharmacist Technician Medical Technologist
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Phlebotomist Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Manager Of Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Chemist Quality Control Analyst Microbiologist
Microbiology Laboratory Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Assurance Director
12 Yearsyrs
Specialist Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Quality Assurance Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Specialist Material Handler Quality Control Inspector
Quality Control Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Research Technician Fellow Research Analyst
Research Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Pharmacist Technician Staff Nurse Clinical Research Coordinator
Senior Clinical Research Coordinator
8 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Instructor Research Scientist
Study Director
7 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Scientist Project Leader
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Laboratory Specialist?

Laboratory Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

51.0%

Male

46.3%

Unknown

2.7%
Ethnicity

White

58.0%

Hispanic or Latino

16.6%

Black or African American

10.9%

Asian

10.0%

Unknown

4.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

53.8%

French

8.7%

Chinese

5.8%

Mandarin

4.8%

German

3.8%

Japanese

3.8%

Cantonese

2.9%

Arabic

2.9%

Korean

2.9%

Italian

1.9%

Swedish

1.0%

Swahili

1.0%

Indonesian

1.0%

Kurdish

1.0%

Romanian

1.0%

Malay

1.0%

Hindi

1.0%

Polish

1.0%

Xiang

1.0%
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Laboratory Specialist Education

Schools

Virginia Commonwealth University

13.9%

University of Phoenix

10.8%

Full Sail University

10.3%

Arizona State University

5.2%

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

5.2%

University of Virginia

5.2%

George Washington University

4.6%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.6%

University of Kentucky

4.6%

Walden University

4.1%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

3.6%

Michigan State University

3.1%

Community College of the Air Force

3.1%

Lamar University

3.1%

Old Dominion University

3.1%

University of Utah

3.1%

Florida State University

3.1%

American InterContinental University

3.1%

University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

3.1%

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

3.1%
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Majors

Biology

17.1%

Business

13.2%

Chemistry

10.3%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

5.8%

Criminal Justice

5.3%

Medical Technician

4.9%

Psychology

4.6%

Nursing

4.4%

Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science

4.4%

General Studies

3.1%

Electrical Engineering

3.1%

Medical Assisting Services

3.1%

Health Care Administration

3.1%

Computer Science

3.0%

Information Technology

2.8%

Management

2.5%

Pharmacy

2.5%

Communication

2.3%

Computer Information Systems

2.3%

Public Health

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.3%

Other

21.0%

Masters

20.0%

Associate

12.2%

Certificate

3.9%

Doctorate

3.8%

Diploma

1.5%

License

0.3%
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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

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  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:
  • Specialized in providing information to customers about photo lab equipment as well as specific camera brands.
  • Apply all fire prevention and safety control procedures in handling Hazardous Material.
  • Led the Product Qualification analysis (Samples preparation and all measurement) between Pegas-Egypt laboratory and customer service department.
  • Practiced proper disposal of chemical waste ensuring all safety policies and procedures were strictly followed.
  • Performed electron mobility shifting assays (EMSA) and assisted in cell culture.

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