Medical laboratory science professionals, also known as medical laboratory scientists, are healthcare detectives.
They play a vital part in uncovering laboratory information from analyses that help physicians with their patient treatment and diagnosis.
A medical laboratory scientist salary can vary depending on location. Hiring requirements also range between states.
If you’re looking to become one of these healthcare detectives, this information is imperative to know.
In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about becoming a medical laboratory scientist in the U.S., including a standard medical laboratory scientist salary.
What is a Medical Laboratory Scientist Professional?
As we previously mentioned, this profession, also known as medical laboratorians, are vital in gathering the information that physicians require to help their patients.
Not only can it help with patient diagnosis and treatment, but the work of a medical laboratory scientist can also help with disease prevention or monitoring.
A medical laboratory scientist professional is the right-hand man or woman of a physician.
By using sophisticated biomedical technology and instrumentation, methods involving laboratory testing on body fluids and blood, as well as computer information and skill, medical laboratory scientist professionals are able to retrieve important information and results.
This laboratory testing requires discipline and skills such as clinical chemistry, immunology, hematology, microbiology, immunohematology and molecular biology.
These professionals produce accurate and vital laboratory data that helps with the ability to detect heart attacks, cancer, infectious mononucleosis, and specific bacteria or virus identification that can cause infections. These professionals can also use their skills to detect drugs of abuse.
In addition to this, medical laboratory scientists monitor testing quality for consultations with the rest of the healthcare team.
Career Tracks For A Medical Laboratory Scientist Profession
This profession has multiple career tracks depending on the level of education:
- Medical laboratory technician (2 years of education)
- Medical laboratory scientist (4-5 years of education)
Medical laboratory technicians focus on the gathering, processing and analyzing of biological findings, maintenance of instruments and tools, performance of laboratory procedures, and pairing specific lab findings with conditions or diseases.
On the other hand, medical laboratory scientists focus on a more intensive theoretical set of skills and knowledge.
This means that, on top of laboratory procedures and analysis, they also interpret and evaluate all the results, solve problems, integrate data, consult, perform research, and create new or different testing methods.
Medical Laboratory Scientist: Salary, Basic Requirements, and a Glimpse Into the Career
If you’re thinking of becoming a medical laboratory scientist, get ready for school.
A decent amount of formal education is required before heading into this field.
However, if you truly believe this is the job for you, learning about the profession and skills required will be enjoyable. And it’s definitely a test drive to ensure you enjoy the actual processes of the position itself.
So, if you’re looking to work in the medical field and you love science, then a medical laboratory scientist profession may be the right choice for you.
However, before you jump right in, you should know the basics of what you’ll need to acquire the elegibility and status to become a sought-after medical laboratory scientist.
First, you’ll at least need a bachelor’s degree. A professional certification or licensure may also be required depending on your location and level of experience prior to applying for the job.
Vital Information Before Diving Into The Profession
Medical laboratory scientists conduct laboratory tests with a purpose to detect and cure diseases.
By using complex pieces of medical equipment, they analyze samples of body tissues and fluids to detect bacterial infection, chemical components, hormonal levels, or anything else that may be affecting the human body and its overall health.
The first step to opening a door to this career is obtaining a bachelor’s degree, majoring in a life science.
The projected job growth in this profession from now until the year 2024 is 16% for clinical and medical laboratory technologists and technicians.
A clinical and medical laboratory scientist salary is $51,770 per year. This is a mean annual salary according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
However, it ranges depending on where you are hired.
Hospitals are the largest medical and clinical laboratory technologist employers. The technologists working in these environments earn an average salary of $62,820 in 2015.
The highest-paying industry, however, is the scientific, management and technical consulting services. This industry pays $69,990 as an average annual salary as of May 2015.
In terms of clinical laboratory scientists, an entry-level employee with less than 5 years of experience will earn an average total amount of $54,000 per year, based on 723 salaries.
This compensation includes bonus, tips and overtime pay.
A clinical laboratory scientist who has mid-career experience, or 5-10 years of experience, will be looking at an average of $62,000.
If you’re an experience clinical laboratory scientist with 10-20 years of experience under your belt, you’ll be expecting an annual compensation of$67,000.
A clinical laboratory scientist with late-career experience, or more than 20 years of experience, will be compensated with an average of $74,000. This is based on 232 salaries according to BLS.
Requirements to Become a Medical Laboratory Scientist
Experience and training can play a role in landing a position as a medical laboratory scientist or technician. However, a bachelor’s degree in medical technology, clinical science, or a life science such as microbiology is usually necessary to land a job as a medical laboratory scientist.
If you’re thinking of paying for schooling in order to land this type of profession, you should be aware that these programs usually require courses in chemistry, biology, physics, math, and statistics.
Other courses that can be helpful and relevant to this profession are immunology, microbiology, and hematology, as well as qualitative analysis.
Certification and Licenses
While there are some states that require laboratory scientists and technicians to be licensed, these requirements differ from state to state.
However, anywhere you go in the U.S., you'll typically be required to complete a bachelor’s degree with a major in a relevant course, along with passing a test.
Certain employers may also prefer to hire a medical laboratory scientist who carries a certification as well. These certifications are available from various organizations, such as the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts, the American Medical Technologists, and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel.
The requirements for these certifications vary between organizations. However, these certification requirements also include the possession of a bachelor’s degree in a life science or clinical subject, and also the completion a certain amount of hands-on experience and training in a lab setting.
Medical Laboratory Scientist Salary and Career: Overview
Small labs require medical laboratory scientists who can complete the tasks in a number of areas.
These medical laboratory scientist generalists typically use complex technology to gather and analyze tissue, body fluid, and blood samples through a microscope. This is to help determine whether a patient's electrolytes, cholesterol levels, or other vital bodily functions are all working properly.
These generalists can also examine tumors for cancer cells, check chemical compounds in the blood to make sure the body is getting the right amount of a specific medication, or cross-match blood types.
In larger labs such as the ones found in regional medical centers, medical laboratory scientists can specialize in a more specific area of expertise.
For example, laboratory scientists specializing in immunology may use a number of tests to determine the response of the immune system in a patient to a specific allergen.
Medical laboratory scientists also are able to analyze any data to prepare for physicians’ report. This is a very important job as it enhances the efficiency or accuracy of specimen analysis and collection.
These individuals may also be in charge of supervising lab technicians (for instance, phlebotomists) who are needed to collect blood samples for testing.
Medical laboratory scientists need to be observant, precise and obtain a large amount of medical and scientific knowledge and background.
If you think you’ve checked all these boxes, and if the medical laboratory scientist salary agrees with you, then this may be the path for you.
Review the education requirements and start on your new path towards becoming a professional medical laboratory scientist to improve the medical world and potentially change lives.