To prepare for a career in Medical Laboratory Science, students should have a solid foundation in high school sciences--biology, chemistry, math and computer science. Students also need a combination of formal education (bachelor's degree) plus clinical education in a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS). There are a variety of these post-high school programs from which to choose. Many colleges and universities offer a degree in Medical Technology or Clinical Laboratory Science. Post-baccalaureate degree programs and certificates prepare you for positions in hospital clinical laboratories, research laboratories or other specialized labs.
Because there is a significant demand for qualified medical laboratory scientists, job opportunities are unlimited. Nationally, as well as in Texas, cytogenetic laboratories remain understaffed and certified technologists are in high demand. Unlike many other careers, an education in MLS will prepare students directly for a job. And while attending school, students can work part-time in a laboratory to earn extra money. After graduation, most MLS students begin working full-time immediately.
A year of clinical training in an approved school of clinical laboratory science is required for any individual who wishes to become a medical laboratory scientist. It is the student's responsibility to apply to and gain admission to an approved school and admission is competitive. Grades are the most important, but not the only, factor considered for admission. Generally, a 2.5 overall GPA (2.7 in the sciences) is considered the minimum acceptable. A personal interview, three letters of recommendation and a 200 - 300 word statement will also be weighed in the admission decision. The training period requires about 40 hours per week of class and laboratory time, with occasional major holidays off. As with any professional training program, additional study time is required to master the material. Some of the programs charge an academic fee; financial aid is available. Students are expected to maintain at least a 75 grade average.
After satisfactory completion of the year of clinical training, either a certificate or a degree is awarded. Graduates are eligible for one or more of the national certification examinations for medical technologist/clinical laboratory scientist. Certification is independent of the degree and is required for employment.
In Texas, most medical laboratory scientists will start earning between $25,000 and $35,000 annually. For additional information and career opportunities, visit the following web site: US Department of Labor
For information on certification in MLS and other Allied Health Professions such as Cytotechnologist, Histologic Technologist and Phlebotomist, or for more information on educational requirements or certification requirements, write to:
American Society of Clinical Pathologists Inc. (ASCP) Board of Registry
Chicago, IL 60612-0277
NAACLS is committed to being the premier agency for accreditation and approval of educational programs in the clinical laboratory sciences and related healthcare disciplines through the involvement of expert volunteers and its commitment to public service. For a list of accredited programs in CLS, write to:
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS)
8410 W. Bryn Mawr, Suite 670
Chicago, IL 60631