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Online Lab Science Certificate and Diploma Program Overviews

Get info about online certificate programs in laboratory science. Read about program requirements and course topics, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Educational certificate programs in lab science are available in an online format. These programs are typically designed for those who already hold a degree in a laboratory science, like biology or chemistry. Admission requirements may include a criminal background check, proof of insurance and proof of immunization. Depending on the program, students may need to complete an in-person internship or some clinical work.

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians typically need either an educational certificate or an associate's degree, while medical and clinical laboratory technologists generally need a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Some states require lab techs to be registered or licensed, but professional credentialing requirements vary by state and by specialty. An online certificate program may help prepare those who complete the program for credentialing examinations.

Lab Science Certificate

Online lab science certificate programs train students in chemistry, biology, hematology and skills related to lab work. Prospective students must possess a degree, and prior coursework in biology, science and chemistry are typically required or suggested. Other requirements include a criminal background check and drug screening, a physical examination and immunization documentation and proof of health insurance coverage. Upon completion, participants are eligible to sit for the national certification exam in clinical laboratory science.

Information and Requirements

For those possessing a degree and already licensed in laboratory science, all coursework for a graduate certificate can be completed online. Programs designed for initial certification include a required portion of supervised clinical practicum, internship or in-person lab work. Some schools offer both part-time and full-time programs.

Students must be technically competent in basic word processing, e-mail, hardware, software and computer language skills to participate in an online curriculum. In addition, access to a personal computer and Internet connection is necessary, and all technology must meet the school-specific minimum system requirements.

Course Topics

The courses common to all of these online programs focus on chemistry, biology, laboratory skills, hematology and immunology. General education requirements vary by school and the participant's present level of degree held.

Hematology

Human blood physiology, regulation and cells are studied in this course. Blood diseases, such as leukemia, anemia and lymphoma are also covered, and students learn to use lab testing for screening, monitoring and diagnosing a prognosis. Blood-related topics of coagulation, counts, instruments, abnormalities and disorders are also included.

Clinical Laboratory Operations and Analysis

Quality control and safety regulations for effective laboratory operations are the focus of this class. Students study topics like the analyses parameters, safety controls, management styles, financial planning, laboratory systems and current licensure procedures used in labs.

Clinical Chemistry

This class introduces basic concepts, techniques, principles and procedures of chemistry analysis. Human blood and other body fluids are analyzed using clinical chemistry testing and results. Carbohydrates, electrolyte acid/base balance, enzymology, toxicology, endocrinology, lipids and bilirubin are some of the areas explored.


Career Information

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians earned a median annual wage of $50,550 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). General medical and surgical hospitals provided the highest level of employment (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that increased laboratory testing and new testing development would provide job growth in the field, and between 2014 and 2024, a 16% increase was expected in employment opportunities in the field.

Continuing Education Information

For further education, students can pursue graduate-level programs in the biological sciences or chemistry. A master's degree can accelerate advancement in the field, and a doctorate is normally required to become a laboratory director or for advanced research positions.

Also, lab scientists can achieve certification offered by the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, the Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the American Medical Technologists and the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts. These organizations require completion of an examination.

A certificate program in laboratory science will prepare successful graduates for a variety of jobs within the science and research field. Coursework can be completed online, though depending on how much professional experience a student has, a clinical or internship may be required.

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