Working in the field of health or medicine, the clinical laboratory assistant, which may also be referred to as a medical lab assistant, performs critical tasks working for scientists, doctors, nurses or other medical professionals. It is a profession that requires attention to detail. Typically, the job entails drawing and processing samples, performing basic lab tests, maintaining quality control, entering computer data and often doing some filing and billing. Community and technical colleges throughout the country offer certificates in clinical lab assisting.

Background for Clinical Lab Assistant Training

Clinical lab assistants need an understanding of math and some science.
Clinical lab assistants need an understanding of math and some science.

It is recommended that you have a foundation of high school math, chemistry and biology in order to enroll in some Clinical Lab Assistant programs. If you do not have these prerequisites, you can take courses at a community college to give yourself a solid background in these areas. Further, Clinical Lab Assistants need to have good interpersonal, communication and organizational skills as well as a good command of the English language, both written and verbal.

Clinical Lab Assistant Certificates

Clinical lab assisting provides the basic skills and knowledge necessary to work in today's sophisticated laboratories.
Clinical lab assisting provides the basic skills and knowledge necessary to work in today's sophisticated laboratories.

A certificate in Clinical Lab Assisting provides entry level training in laboratory procedures. In general, certificate programs teach phlebotomy, urinalysis, medical terminology, basic diagnostic procedures, office management as well as clinical lab assistant skills and a practicum or clinic experience. Once completed, a Clinical Lab Assistant program provides a comprehensive background and understanding in the proper laboratory procedures.

Requirements for Clinical Lab Assistant Certificate

Before enrolling in a program a person should determine which program is right for them.
Before enrolling in a program a person should determine which program is right for them.

Requirements for a Clinical Lab Assistant certificate can vary. For example, Clackamas Community College in Oregon offers a Clinical Laboratory Assistant Program that requires 48 to 52 credits to earn a certificate and offers students thorough training in medical lab practices and procedures. While at the Community College of Vermont, the Clinical Laboratory Assistant requires a minimum of 31 credits and Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts offers a two-semester (nine months) certificate program that requires 29 credits, two of which are taken during Intersession, between the first and second semester. It is important that before enrolling in a program, students determine which program is right for them.

Clinical Lab Assistant Professional Certification

Professional certification from a national organization helps the clinical lab assistant remain up-to-date and employable.
Professional certification from a national organization helps the clinical lab assistant remain up-to-date and employable.

Seeking professional certification through the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACL), the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or the American Medical Technologists (AMT) provides you with a valuable credential that lets employers know that you are well trained and qualified for your position and that you take your career seriously. The professional certification makes you more employable. Additionally, through these organizations you can seek employment, find online courses, stay abreast of the latest news and information in the field and find many other valuable resources.

Clinical Lab Assistant Positions and Earnings

Clinical lab assisting is a growing career that is expected to reamin in demand for years to come.
Clinical lab assisting is a growing career that is expected to reamin in demand for years to come.

The U.S. Department of Labor ranks clinical lab assisting as one of the fastest growing jobs in the country, with a 34 percent growth rate through 2018. This growth and the accompanying demand for qualified clinical lab assistants assures that opportunities in this field will remain tremendous for years to come.

The Department of Labor also reports that salaries for clinical lab assistants range between $23,700 and $33,050 with the top 10 percent in the field earning more than $39,000 annually. Salaries vary from region to region and from facility to facility with hospitals generally paying higher wages.