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What Does a Medical Laboratory Scientist Do?

Medical Laboratory Scientists are laboratory professionals who analyze samples to provide information used in diagnosing and treating diseases. They use sophisticated instrumentation and scientific methods to test blood and body fluids. The information provided by laboratory testing (which may include evaluation of physiological functions, analysis of blood cells, matching blood units for transfusion, or identification of disease-causing pathogens such as the pandemic coronavirus) is critical for patient care, so these professionals make a difference in healthcare every day.

Medical Laboratory Scientists are trained to work in the following areas of the clinical laboratory:

  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Immunohematology (Blood Banking)
  • Medical microbiology
  • Hematology
  • Molecular Biology
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MLS professional in laboratory

Medical Laboratory Scientist Career Options

Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) degrees offer students a generous selection of career options post-graduation. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the importance of laboratory testing and has also highlighted the shortage of laboratory professionals – jobs for Medical Laboratory Scientists are available everywhere. An MLS degree provides a foundational understanding of sciences and medical research that can be applied in a hospital laboratory. For those seeking a Medical Laboratory Science career, the MLS degree followed by certification is the preferred educational path. The median annual salary for staff medical laboratory scientists was $68,240 in 2019, according to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and salaries for laboratory managers averaged $92,120.1

Top Medical Laboratory Scientist Jobs

  • Medical Laboratory Scientist
  • Clinical Laboratory Scientist
  • Medical Technologist
  • Clinical Laboratory Technologist
  • Clinical Microbiologist
  • Laboratory Supervisor
  • Supervisory Technologist
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Laboratory Director

Work Locations

Potential work locations for graduates include a variety of settings within multiple industries. While most MLS graduates seek employment in a hospital laboratory, other options are available. Industries that offer relevant employment may include:

  • Forensics
  • Biotechnology
  • Toxicology
  • Medical research
  • Healthcare administration
  • Pharmaceutical development
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Licensure

To practice in some states, licensure is required by law, in addition to certification. It is advisable to check with the individual state’s department of health to determine licensure requirements.

Sources:
1Garcia E, Kundu I, Fong K. (2020) American Society for Clinical Pathology’s 2019 Wage Survey of Medical Laboratories in The US. Am J Clin Pathol XX(1-25). DOI:10.1093/ajcp/aqaa197

More information is available from the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science