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Medical Laboratory Scientist: Salary, Requirements and Career Overview

Oct 22, 2019

A medical laboratory scientist's salary varies with experience and education. Here we not only discuss salary but also explore how to become a medical laboratory scientist and what these professionals do.

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Medical Laboratory Scientist Salary

According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for a medical laboratory scientist was $55,168 as of October 2019. This equated to a median hourly wage of $25.25, with the medical laboratory scientist starting salary being an hourly wage of $23.44 for those with less than 1 year of work experience.

PayScale.com also reported that the salary for individuals with a master's degree in medical laboratory science was slightly higher at around $61,000, as of October 2019.

Medical laboratory scientists can also be known as clinical laboratory scientists. Individuals who reported their earnings under this career title revealed that the median clinical laboratory scientist salary was $61,641. In October 2019, those with a master's degree in clinical laboratory science earned a median annual salary of around $89,000 per PayScale.com.

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Scientist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) refers to medical laboratory scientists as clinical laboratory technologists and also discusses the roles of medical technicians. Below we explore some of the differences between these careers as far as education requirements and focus on the requirements for becoming a medical laboratory scientist or clinical laboratory technologist.

Education Requirements

The education requirements for a medical lab technician are usually the least strenuous. Typically, these technicians need a certificate or associate's degree, and some medical lab technician programs are available in hybrid formats. A clinical or medical technologist is usually a step above a technician and requires a bachelor's degree.

Typically, aspiring clinical laboratory technologists can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Medical Laboratory Science or Clinical Laboratory Science. These degree programs are heavy in science and math courses and train students in the necessary laboratory safety and technical skills to work in the field. Specific course topics for these degree programs may include:

  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Anatomy
  • Genetics
  • Laboratory management
  • Molecular diagnostics

Certification and Licensure Requirements

Depending on the state, some medical laboratory scientists may need a state license to work in a laboratory. Sometimes state licensure may require these professionals to earn certification, and employers may prefer certified technologists. Medical laboratory scientists can pursue general certification from organizations like the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences and also pursue certification in a specialty within the field, such as medical biology. Certification usually requires a degree and passing scores on an exam.

Career Overview for Medical Laboratory Scientists

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certification/Licensure
Annual Median Salary (2018)* $52,330 (for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)
Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% (for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Medical laboratory scientists typically work full time in a laboratory and may work irregular hours, depending on their employer. For example, those working in a hospital may need to work nights and weekends to run tests for patients. In general, these technologists are responsible for collecting samples from patients and running various medical and diagnostic tests on these tissue and fluid samples. They may run more complex tests than clinical laboratory technicians. Other specific job duties for medical laboratory scientists may include:

  • Running tests and analyzing results
  • Recording findings
  • Using various laboratory equipment
  • Updating patients' medical records
  • Reporting findings to physicians
  • Checking blood samples for blood type, number of cells, and more
  • Performing complex manual tests
  • Utilizing automated equipment for routine tests
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