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Medical Laboratory Science Career Information

The video by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) tells the story of how medical laboratorians save lives by assisting with patient diagnosis and treatment.

What is a Clinical Laboratory Professional?

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Clinical laboratory scientists, often called medical scientists, are vital healthcare detectives, uncovering and providing laboratory information from laboratory analyses that assist physicians in patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as in disease monitoring or prevention (maintenance of health). We use sophisticated biomedical instrumentation and technology, computers, and methods requiring manual dexterity to perform laboratory testing on blood and body fluids. Laboratory testing encompasses such disciplines as clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology, microbiology and molecular biology. Clinical laboratory science professionals generate accurate laboratory data that are needed to aid in detecting cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, infectious mononucleosis, and identification of bacteria or viruses that cause infections, as well as in detecting drugs of abuse. In addition, we monitor testing quality and consult with other members of the healthcare team.

The clinical laboratory science profession has more than one career track based on level of education: clinical laboratory technician (2 years) and clinical laboratory scientist (4 to 5 years). Clinical laboratory scientists are competent in the collection, processing and analysis of biological specimens, the performance of lab procedures, the maintenance of instruments, and relating lab findings to common diseases/conditions. Clinical laboratory scientists have a more extensive theoretical knowledge base. Therefore they not only perform laboratory procedures including very sophisticated analyses, but also evaluate/interpret the results, integrate data, problem solve, consult, conduct research and develop new test methods.

Essential Functions

In order to participate in a clinical laboratory science educational program, students must be able to comply with program-designated essential functions, or request reasonable accommodations to execute these essential functions. Requirements include a sound intellect; good motor skills: eye-hand coordination and dexterity; effective communication skills; visual acuity to perform macroscopic and microscopic analyses, or read procedures, graphs, etc.; professional skills such as the ability to work independently, manage time efficiently, to comprehend, analyze and synthesize various materials, as well as to hold sound psychological health and stability.

Educational Requirements

A solid foundation in high school biology, chemistry, and math usually provides the groundwork for clinical laboratory science education. Clinical laboratory scientists complete a baccalaureate degree program that includes courses in chemistry, biological sciences, microbiology, mathematics, statistics and specialized courses devoted to knowledge and skills used in the clinical laboratory. Many programs also offer or require courses in management, education and computer applications. An integrated university based program provides professional coursework prior to a shorter clinical experience, e.g. 5 to 6 months. Such a program usually is found in a major university or academic medical center.

Accreditation of clinical laboratory science or technician programs by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences ensures that the programs maintain high educational standards (visit for a list of accredited programs and contact information). Upon completion of a clinical laboratory science, graduates are eligible for national certification as a clinical laboratory scientist, CLS, by exams offered by the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA).

Careers in Medical Laboratory Science

Advanced Education

  • Physician
  • Physician Assistant
  • Law
  • Master Public Health
  • MBA
  • Ph.D.
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry

Government Agencies

  • CDC
  • Crime Laboratories
  • FBI
  • Public Health Department
  • Military
  • Environmental
  • FDA

Information Management

  • System Analyst
  • Lab Information
  • Systems


  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Clinical Trials
  • Biotechnology
  • Research & Development
  • Instrument Technical
  • Representative
  • Product Specialists
  • Instrument/Product Sales
  • Agriculture
  • Bioremediation

Healthcare Administration

  • Infection Control
  • Policy Analyst
  • Quality Assurance
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Risk Management


  • Clinical Educator
  • Allied Health
  • Health Promotion
  • Education Coordinator

Hospital/Medical Facility

  • Transplant Services
  • Transfusion Services
  • Blood Donor Services
  • Hematology
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Fertility Clinics
  • Immunology/Allergy
  • Toxicology
  • Lab Management
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics


  • Clinical Educator
  • Allied Health
  • Health Promotion
  • Education Coordinator

Private Consulting


Download a Medical Laboratory Science Careers Graphic

Last updated: 6/15/2023