How do I Become a Medical Laboratory Assistant?

N. Madison

A medical lab assistant usually works in a hospital, medical care facility, or related business, providing assistance with laboratory work. In some places, employers may train new hires as laboratory assistants. In most cases, however, a person who wants to become a medical laboratory assistant seeks an associate’s degree or certificate in medical technology, laboratory science, or a closely related major. In addition to education in the field, some jurisdictions may require a person who wants to become a medical laboratory assistant to secure licensing or certification.

Medical laboratory assistants may be tasked with maintaining inventory and ordering supplies as needed.
Medical laboratory assistants may be tasked with maintaining inventory and ordering supplies as needed.

An individual who chooses to become a medical laboratory assistant usually works in a medical facility or in a private lab. His job is to assist others who work in the lab with their duties. He may handle and prepare fluid and tissue samples, use laboratory equipment and machinery, and run lab tests as part of this job. He may also be responsible for sterilizing equipment and keeping records. While his primary purpose may be to assist other lab workers, such as medical lab technologists, a person in this position may also have the opportunity to run some tests independently.

Medical laboratory assistants work in medical facilies and private labs.
Medical laboratory assistants work in medical facilies and private labs.

Typically, a person who wants to become a medical laboratory assistant needs at least a high school education to pursue this career. With a high school diploma or its equivalent, a person may be able to secure a job with an employer who is willing to provide on-the-job-training. Many employers, however, prefer lab assistants who already have education and training in the field. In such a case, a person who wants to become a medical laboratory assistant will usually need to attend a vocational school or community college and earn a two-year degree, diploma, or certificate in medical technology or lab science.

Different labs have different requirements in regards to their medical laboratory assistants.
Different labs have different requirements in regards to their medical laboratory assistants.

In addition to completing a lab science or medical technology program at an accredited school, a person interested in this field will typically need certain skills. For example, he should be capable of listening and following directions and have good organizational and communication skills. An individual interested in this position usually needs to have good manual dexterity, computer skills, and the ability to work well under pressure or when facing a deadline. Good physical health is often important too, as a person in this job may spend a significant amount of time on his feet.

In some jurisdictions, a person who wants to become a medical laboratory assistant may have to seek licensing or certification in order to pursue this job. Usually, this involves paying a fee and passing an exam. Procedures for obtaining licensing and certification vary from place to place, however. Additionally, a person may choose to pursue voluntary certification in order to better his chances of securing a job.

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

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