Lab Assistant School and College Program Overviews

In a clinical laboratory certificate program, students learn the quality control and specimen processing skills needed to play support roles in laboratories. Learn about program requirements in addition to career outlook and continuing education.

Essential Information

Laboratory assistants who earn a certificate may also pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in a medical field such as medical technology. Many certificate programs are only available to students already enrolled in a related associate's degree program, which requires a high school diploma or GED for admission. Most certificate programs recommend a fundamental understanding of biology and computer science. Knowledge of statistics can be helpful as well. Some programs may require logging clinical hours and an internship for program completion.

Lab Assistant Certificate Programs

Many of these programs place a heavy emphasis on logging clinical hours in order to prepare students to immediately begin working in a hospital, ambulatory surgery center or research lab. Laboratory assistant college programs typically allocate more time for clinical hours than for lectures. Students learn anatomy, chemistry and phlebotomy, and some programs require an internship. The following courses may be included:

  • Lab fundamentals
  • Medical terminology
  • First aid
  • Phlebotomy
  • Internship/externship

Career Outlook

As of May 2015, laboratory assistants (referred to as medical and clinical laboratory technicians) earned an average of $41,420, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, and the highest-paid ten percent made upwards of $60,810. The BLS predicts that job opportunities for laboratory assistants will grow faster than average at 18% between 2014 and 2024.

Continuing Education

Many laboratory assistants who have earned a certificate or 2-year degree pursue bachelor's degrees in medical technology. Upon graduation, they can begin a career as a clinical laboratory technologist, making an average of $61,860 per year in a profession that is growing at a rate that is faster than average.

Students can learn the skills needed to work as clinical lab technicians through certificate programs, which may or may not be offered in conjunction with associate's degrees. Graduates can elect to pursue a bachelor's degree, which will open up opportunities to become a technologist and earn significantly higher salaries.

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