How do I Become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist?

Clinical laboratory scientists are medical professionals who conduct tests on human tissue, blood, and fluid samples in order to detect disease, bacteria, and other abnormalities. Their work is critical in assisting doctors in determining the best treatment plan for patients. A bachelor’s degree in medical technology or biological science, as well as completion of a nationally accredited program, are typically required to become a clinical laboratory scientist. A clinical laboratory scientist may begin his or her career as a laboratory technician or assistant and progress through extensive on-the-job training to become a clinical laboratory scientist. In addition, some states and employers demand specific certification and licensing.

Bachelor’s degrees are commonly pursued aspiring clinical laboratory scientists at four-year universities. They frequently major in medical technology or a biological science related to it, such as chemistry or physiology. Students are taught in the classroom and in the laboratory about terminology, techniques, and equipment that will be used in their future careers. To gain a better understanding of data analysis, many students enroll in advanced mathematics and statistics courses.

Another option for someone interested in becoming a clinical laboratory scientist is to work as a laboratory technician or assistant first. An associate degree program from a community college, vocational school, or an accredited online program is usually required to become a laboratory technician. Laboratory technicians assist laboratory scientists with a variety of tasks, including collecting samples, setting up testing equipment, entering data, and cleaning the lab. Most dedicated laboratory technicians can become scientists after one to three years of training and experience.

Before becoming a clinical laboratory scientist in the United States, aspiring scientists must usually complete a certification program offered the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). Many universities, hospitals, and health science institutes offer NAACLS programs. Many countries rely on NAACLS-like organizations to oversee national certification programs. Various professional organizations offer additional certification, which may be useful in gaining employment in clinical laboratories.

To work as a clinical laboratory scientist in many states and countries, you must first obtain a license. Although licensing requirements vary region, the majority of programs include comprehensive written exams covering laboratory procedures and medical terminology. Future clinical laboratory scientists should research the specific licensing, certification, and education requirements in their area before beginning their careers.