A medical laboratory profession opens doors to diversification and advancement along scientific, managerial and teaching routes. Typically additional education is required.
Varied scientific settings - a few examples
Although most medical laboratory professionals work in hospital laboratories, there are other laboratories where their skills are valued including:
- Veterinary laboratories - view a video interview with a veterinary laboratory scientist.
- Research laboratories in industry (like pharmaceuticals) or colleges/universities
- Commercial medical laboratories
- Food quality laboratories
- Quality control laboratories like in pharmaceutical companies
- Public health laboratories - view a video interview with a public health laboratory scientist
- Environmental testing laboratories - View an interview with an environment laboratory scientist
- Forensic/crime laboratories - view a video interview with an forensic laboratory scientist
Advanced scientific careers - just a sampling
For individuals who want advancement with a focus on science
- Forensic scientist - a master's degree or PhD in Chemistry is recommended for those who want to work in forensics/crime laboratory testing. A clinical experience in a crime laboratory is required. View a video interview with a forensic scientist.
- Laboratory specialist - After some years working full time in a department, and with additional studies, a Clinical Laboratory Scientist can qualify for the specialty exam in Microbiology, Blood Bank, Chemistry, or Hematology.
- Trace Analysis/Toxicologist - Recovers samples from crime scenes and tests for minute amounts of substances, especially toxins. Usually a Ph.D. in Clinical Chemistry or Toxicology is required.
- Laboratory Technical Director - a Ph.D. specialist in one of the laboratory disciplines such as microbiology or clinical chemistry will be responsible for development and implementation of new methods as well as management of the department.
- Pathologist - a medical doctor who specializes in laboratory medicine
- DNA testing - tests for the presence of DNA and performs DNA matches with the help of computer databases. Usually requires a Master in Forensic Science degree is needed when doing DNA testing in a crime lab.
- Infectious disease surveillance officer - a bachelor's prepared individual can qualify to monitor infectious agents within the hospital to help prevent patients from developing infections.
- Research scientist - although individuals at all levels of education can find jobs in research, primary investigators will hold doctoral degrees. They may work in industries like pharmaceuticals or on college campuses. View a video interview with a research scientist.
Advanced management careers - some examples
- Department supervisors - bachelor's degree individuals in any laboratory specialty area can advance to supervise daily operations in their area expertise. View a video interview with a laboratory supervisor.
- Laboratory manager or administrator - bachelor's or master's degrees prepare individuals from any laboratory specialty to manage the operations of the entire laboratory including finances, personnel, physical facilities, marketing, regulatory compliance, information systems and more. View a video interview with a laboratory manager.
- Information systems manager - laboratory information systems are a significant component of laboratory operations and bachelor's prepared individuals can specialize in this are. View a video interview with an information systems manager.
- Compliance office - bachelor's and master's prepared individuals may take on the responsibility of insuring that the laboratory or other hospital departments meet all legal requirements including insurance billing, safety, waste disposal and more
- Hospital administrator - from director of personnel to hospital CEO, the analytical thinking skills of laboratory professionals can be applied to administrative decisions and duties. Typically a master's degree will be required for advancement to such positions.
- Sales representative or marketing manager - medical supplies and pharmaceutical sales offer opportunities to individuals with associate or bachelor's degrees who enjoy meeting the public and the art of persuasion. View a video interview with a laboratory product sales representative.
Advanced careers in education and teaching - just a taste of what is possible
- Teaching scientist/technologist - individuals with a special interest in teaching can assume responsibilities within the laboratory to teach students and new hirees
- Education coordinator - most laboratories designate an individual to coordinate continuing professional education as well as training of new staff and students.
- Educational program director - for institutions with formal educational programs, master's prepared individuals can direct those programs overseeing student selection, assessment, and monitoring; curriculum development; accreditation compliance and more
- University/college faculty member - master's and doctoral prepared individuals become faculty in academic educational programs in laboratory sciences. Besides teaching, they conduct research and serve their professional communities in various ways. View a video interview with a university faculty member.
- Technical representative - laboratory supplies and instrument companies employ individuals to train customers in the use of their products