Let’s talk about careers in Medical Laboratories. Med Labs like Quest, LabCorp, and the thousands of others in the United States have been front and center of the news lately (for obvious reasons). Historically jobs existed in this field starting with Laboratory Technicians/Assistants, Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLS), up to the Pathologist. Lab Assistants start at 0-1 years of training/education on average. Lab Techs start at 1-2yrs with an occasional AA degree. CLS average about 4yrs of training with a BS degree. Pathologists are required to have 4yrs of medical school and 3 to 7 years of internship/residency. That’s a lot of schooling the higher up the ladder you go.
Let’s talk about the sweet spot for entry-level Med Lab career seekers; Medical Laboratory Technicians or MLT for short. The State of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) requires MLTs to be licensed to practice in the state. They are also better at defining the role of the MLT in our labs. Such as their ability to perform low complexity and medium complexity testing and the regulations around it. This creates a unique opportunity for entry-level medical career seekers to explore a booming, up-and-coming career as an MLT in California.
The average entry-level salary for this position is $50k/year with only 1-2yrs of training from an approved school. Let’s talk about what’s posted online on websites like indeed.com – https://www.indeed.com/career/laboratory-technician/salaries/CA Notice the range is really wide and quite high. This is likely because they are combining a Lab Assistant (which is more entry-level) with a Lab Assistant with an actual licensed MLT. The MLT licensing is relatively new so indeed may not have a ton of data to separate this out. Our experience in the industry shows that California Licensed MLTs are definitely earning on the upper end of Indeed.com’s scale.
Most entry-level MLTs could work late shifts or night shifts as most laboratories are very busy during off hours conducting tests and preparing test results. MLTs also have low interaction with patients.
Career advancement is high for this career because a portion of your previous coursework and training can be transferred into a CLS 4-year degree course.
If you’ve gotten this far then you might be considering what are your next steps to becoming a licensed MLT in the state of California. First of all, you’re not going to find many schools that are approved by CDPH to teach this. Here are all of them – CDPH List of MLT Approved Schools. When looking at this list you only want to see the rows highlighted in blue. The other rows below the rows in blue are externship sites – do not call them. Learn about each program. Learn about their prerequisites. Some schools require you to take GE classes. Some schools allow you to transfer in credits for qualifying classes from other schools. For example, at Regan Career Institute you can apply for the RCI MLT program if you have completed at least 60 semester (90 quarter) units in specific courses from an accredited college or university prior to entry into the MLT program at RCI. Transferable coursework shall consist of at least 36-semester units of physical and biological sciences with an emphasis on applied clinical science. Coursework shall include 6-semester units of chemistry and 6-semester units of biology appropriate for transfer to a baccalaureate program in science, taken prior to, or concurrently with, training or experience. In this scenario, you can take these courses at a Community College at a cheaper price, then transfer to the MLT program which will only take 1 year to complete.
Years of Education: 1-2 years (depending on program)