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Hospital Laboratory Aide: Job Duties & Career Info

Find out how to become a hospital laboratory aide. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in health care.

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Should I Become a Hospital Laboratory Aide?

Hospital lab aides are responsible for drawing blood from patients, processing samples and collecting specimens. Aside from diagnostic work, these professionals may record test results, prepare and stain slides for analysis, order supplies, track inventory and clean the laboratory facility. Safety precautions must be followed when working with potentially infectious samples.

Employers usually require that these professionals have at least an associate's degree. Certain states may require students who have completed an accredited training program to pass a written examination to gain their state license.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's Degree
Degree Field Clinical Laboratory Science
Licensure and Certification Most employers require certification; some states require licensure
Key Skills attention to detail, dexterity, technical aptitude
Salary (2014) $38,370 (median for medical and clinical laboratory technicians)

Sources: MTI College, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Fulfill Education Requirements

Most people seeking the hospital laboratory aide career begin by completing an associate's degree in clinical laboratory science. For people already working in the medical field, there are some one-year certificate programs to expand their skills in medical laboratory technology. Certificate programs are offered at community colleges, technical schools and through the Red Cross.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship or externship experience. Most programs will require students complete an internship or externship where they will gain hands on experience.
  • Take advantage of volunteer opportunities. Students should take advantage of any volunteer opportunities offered in local hospitals or medical facilities. Volunteering in a hospital can provide networking opportunities and familiarize students with the medical setting.

Step 2: Obtain Certification or Licensure

While certification is not always required for hospital laboratory technicians, most employers prefer to hire candidates with certifications. To become certified, aspiring hospital laboratory technicians must first complete a degree program at an accredited institution, then they may sit for their certification exam. Some state also require that medical laboratory technicians obtain state licensure.

Success Tip:

  • Review class notes. Students who need to pass a certification exam will benefit from saving and reviewing any notes taken in class. Looking over the notes each night can help students remember the necessary material and feel more confident on the day of the exam.

Step 3: Specialize

After gaining a few years of experience working as a medical laboratory technician, technicians have the option to pursue further educational opportunities leading to specialization. These specializations include fields such as molecular diagnostics, immunology, histotechnology, and clinical chemistry. A technician with this specialized training and experience will qualify for more opportunities as a hospital laboratory aide or will have the option to move into a research role.

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