Clinical Laboratory Assistant: Job & Career Info

Mar 23, 2019

Also known as medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, or medical laboratory scientists, these professionals collect samples and perform testing on bodily tissues and fluids. Keep reading to learn more about the education requirements, skills, salary and employment outlook of this career.

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Career Definition for a Clinical Laboratory Assistant

Clinical laboratory assistants, similar to clinical lab technologists and technicians, work in labs and play an important role in detecting, diagnosing, and treating diseases and illnesses. Clinical laboratory assistants work under the guidance and supervision of laboratory managers. Common tasks clinical laboratory assistants may perform include routine and some specialized testing, recording results and data, cleaning and inventorying equipment, communicating lab and patient information, phlebotomy, specimen processing, and quality control duties.

Education Bachelor's degree in medical technology or life sciences
Job Skills Caution, diligence, teamwork, communication
Median Salary (2017)* $51,770 for clinical lab technicians and technologists
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 14% for clinical lab technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

If you're interested in becoming a clinical laboratory assistant, you'll likely need at least a bachelor's degree in medical technology or the life sciences; for some positions, it may be possible to qualify with a combination of education and relevant work experience. Coursework in a 4-year degree program that would prepare you to become a clinical laboratory assistant includes biological sciences, chemistry, statistics, mathematics, microbiology, and hands-on lab courses. Some states also require clinical lab assistants to be licensed; licensing requirements vary by state and usually require the passing of a test.

Skill Requirements

Because clinical lab assistants are dealing with potentially dangerous samples, it's crucial that they exercise the utmost caution and diligence in their work. Working well as part of a team, strong communication skills, and taking direction will also help you in a career as a clinical laboratory assistant.

Employment and Economic Outlook

According to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the economic outlook for clinical laboratory technicians, which includes clinical laboratory assistants, is projected to be faster than average with a growth of 14% from 2016-2026. The median 2017 earnings for clinical lab technicians and technologists were $51,770.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these alternatives for careers in a laboratory setting:

Biological Technician

With a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field, these techs perform laboratory experiments and tests. Faster than average employment growth of 10% was expected by the BLS, during the 2016-2026 decade. Biological technicians earned an annual median salary of $43,800 in 2017, according to the BLS.

Chemical Technician

Most jobs can be entered with associate's degrees in chemical technology or applied science, and then the technicians learn many of the required skills while on the job. Slower-than-average job growth of 4% was expected through 2026 for these jobs, the BLS said in 2016. Chemical technicians in 2017 earned an annual median wage of $47,280, the BLS said.

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