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How Do I Become a Clinical Lab Assistant?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

To become a clinical lab assistant, you will typically need to graduate from high school and then obtain postsecondary education. Hiring requirements for clinical lab assistants can differ from one company to another, so you may need more or less education in addition to some type of experience. In most cases, you will need to attend a two year postsecondary school and obtain an Associate of Science degree or a certificate in lab assistant work from a vocational school. It can also be very helpful to complete some type of lab internship during school because this will give you much needed job experience. At that point, you may begin to inquire with labs in hospitals and other health care settings about lab assistant work.

The position of clinical lab assistant typically requires some amount of scientific knowledge along physical dexterity and good eyesight. As a clinical lab assistant, you will usually work in a health care setting and process various specimens and samples for diagnostic purposes. Since there are typically no governmental regulations on this position, you may be able to become a clinical lab assistant with only a general education development (GED) certificate or high school diploma. Most companies tend to prefer hiring people with both postsecondary education and some sort of relevant work experience, so it can be a good idea to obtain these if you want to become a clinical lab assistant.

A clinical lab assistant placing a test tube in a centrifuge.
A clinical lab assistant placing a test tube in a centrifuge.

A solid high school education is typically the first step to become a clinical lab assistant, though you can usually obtain a GED if that is your only option. You can attempt to find clinical lab work at that time, but in most cases you will need to look into postsecondary education. Many community colleges offer degree or certificate programs that are directly focused on lab work, though you may choose to obtain an Associate of Science degree instead. You can also attend a vocational school that offers a certificate program in clinical or diagnostic lab work.

A clinical laboratory assistant may test urine and other samples.
A clinical laboratory assistant may test urine and other samples.

During your postsecondary education, you may want to look into an internship. These programs are typically unpaid, though you may be able to obtain course credit. The main benefit is experience, and these positions can allow you to perform some of the same work you will be responsible for after you become a clinical lab assistant. Work experience along with a relevant degree or certificate can be very useful on a resume when looking for work in a clinical or diagnostic lab.

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    • A clinical lab assistant placing a test tube in a centrifuge.
      A clinical lab assistant placing a test tube in a centrifuge.
    • A clinical laboratory assistant may test urine and other samples.
      By: Photoroller
      A clinical laboratory assistant may test urine and other samples.
    • Clinical lab assistants must possess some amount of scientific knowledge.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      Clinical lab assistants must possess some amount of scientific knowledge.
    • Clinical lab assistants use lab equipment to perform tests on body tissues and fluids to help detect and treat disease and illness.
      By: Darren Baker
      Clinical lab assistants use lab equipment to perform tests on body tissues and fluids to help detect and treat disease and illness.