Clinical Lab Scientist: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Educational Requirements
Clinical lab scientists examine specimens taken from the human body to understand and treat diseases. Read on to learn what degrees are needed for a clinical laboratory science career, as well as the certification options. Learn about the job duties and growth outlook for this position. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What is a Clinical Lab Scientist Career Like?
As a clinical lab scientist (CLS), or medical technologist, you perform tests in medical laboratories to study and treat diseases. You analyze specimens of cells, tissues and body fluids using microscopes and other medical technology. During research, you observe chemical reactions, examine tissue samples, blood, bacteria, fungi and other microscopic material to help physicians and nurses diagnose diseases and treat patients. You may often work on a team with other professionals such as a cytotechnologist (scientist who examines individual cells).
What Is the Job Outlook?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to increase by 14% over the next 2008-2018 decade (www.bls.gov). The major reason behind this growth was the introduction of new types of clinical tests such as genes and cell genetics which led to an increase in testing of patients for genetic diseases. You may find employment with hospitals, medical laboratories, doctor's offices and other medical lab services.
What Are the Education Requirements?
You need a degree or certificate in medical technology or a related science field of study. A typical medical technology program contains courses in cell biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology and bacteriology. College-based degree programs often include a lab internship component in which you will work in a clinic or hospital. Higher-level positions, such as lab director, require advanced degrees.
Some states may require professional certification. Certification may be offered through an organization such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). The ASCP offers multiple certification exams, which typically require proof of work experience and successful completion of an exam. In order to maintain this certification, you must continue your education through the Certification Maintenance Program (CMP). CMP requirements help you to remain abreast of changing technologies and medical advancements.
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