Get information about clinical laboratory science majors and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.
Clinical Laboratory Science Major
Physicians rely on clinical laboratory technologists or clinical laboratory scientists (CLSs) to perform laboratory tests aimed at helping them detect infection and disease.
Students interested in this field can enroll in a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Clinical Laboratory Science, which is the first degree program that involves classroom lectures and clinical experiences. They learn how to use laboratory equipment in testing fluids, such as urine and blood, or cells. A person’s blood may be tested via CLS for various purposes, such as determining blood type for transfusion purposes, detecting drugs, or determining leukemia or cancer patients’ white blood counts.
CLS professionals may also perform tests in examining genes that lead to diseases or in detecting parasites and bacteria. Through studies in immunology, students learn about the ways in which immune systems become compromised and the ways in which disease and infection are fought by the human body.
Through laboratory management and leadership studies, students are taught about the ethical and professional responsibilities of a CLS. Students are required to have taken mathematical and science-related subjects before they seek admission. Numerous national organizations offer professional certifications for those that successfully graduate from the program and pass qualifying tests.
Admission criteria require incoming students to possess a strong background in math and science. Applicants who have completed high school must take preparatory courses in chemistry and biology before they can start intensive lab and science coursework. Coursework in pre-calculus, immunology, genetics, microbiology, and organic chemistry must be completed by students prior to commencing the clinical year of study.
Coursework varies by school and combines theoretical classroom lectures and practical clinical experiences. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:
Job and Wage Outlook
Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, job growth rates of 22% have been predicted for medical and clinical lab technologists (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, these professionals brought home an average annual wage of $47,820 (BLS).
Continuing Education Choices
Organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the American Medical Technologists (AMT), and the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) offer professional certification options in numerous disciplines, along with continuing education, career services, and annual conferences for the benefit of this degree program.