Clinical Laboratory Scientist Job Description

Clinical laboratory scientists use lab equipment to study and analyze various samples and specimens, usually from human subjects, to search for abnormalities and determine their causes, all while maintaining lab safety protocols and documenting findings in lab systems. Hospitals, medical facilities, and laboratories hire clinical laboratory scientists to work full time in laboratory environments. Clinical laboratory scientists collaborate with other lab staff and may work with potentially dangerous viruses and bacteria. They primarily report to the lab supervisor and rarely travel outside the lab to perform their usual duties.


Clinical Laboratory Scientist Duties and Responsibilities

Day-to-day duties for clinical laboratory scientists vary depending on the number and type of samples and specimens they’re analyzing. However, there are several core tasks associated with this job, including:

Conduct Research and Analysis

Clinical laboratory scientists analyze specimens and body fluids to search for abnormalities. They also conduct research to identify their root causes and determine the nature and type of disease, illness, bacteria, or other factors that may be causing abnormal results.

Maintain Equipment

Clinical laboratory scientists calibrate and maintain laboratory equipment to ensure it is functioning at peak levels. This includes keeping equipment clean.

Write Reports

Clinical laboratory scientists write reports summarizing various laboratory findings.

Maintain Logs

Clinical laboratory scientists maintain laboratory logs to track samples and specimens, recording when these materials are moved to various areas within the lab so they can be accessed quickly as needed.

Maintain Lab Safety

Clinical laboratory scientists maintain lab safety at all times by following safe handling and quality control processes and wearing proper protective gear. This includes maintaining a sterile lab environment to avoid any cross-contamination of specimens and samples.

Collaborate with Staff

Clinical laboratory scientists collaborate with other lab staff members and may interact with nurses and other medical professionals to receive various specimens and samples.


Clinical Laboratory Scientist Skills and Qualifications

Clinical laboratory scientists study and analyze various specimens and samples to determine what may be causing abnormalities. They regularly use critical thinking skills and collaborate with other lab staff. Labs hire clinical laboratory scientists who have all the following skills:

  • Communication skills – clinical laboratory scientists use verbal and written communication skills to collaborate with other lab staff, write reports, and maintain lab data logs
  • Critical thinking – clinical laboratory scientists analyze specimens and samples to determine what may be causing various abnormalities, which requires excellent critical thinking skills
  • Mechanical aptitude – clinical laboratory scientists work with various types of lab equipment and must keep it in good working order, which requires some mechanical ability
  • Computer skills – clinical laboratory scientists use computers to access digital files and make notations in digital logs
  • Attention to detail – clinical laboratory scientists use attention to detail to notice even the smallest abnormalities and make note of any deviations in specimens and samples


Tools of the Trade

Clinical laboratory scientists regularly work with the following tools and equipment:

  • Lab equipment (microscopes, slides, reagents)
  • Protective gear (gloves, safety glasses, face shields, face masks)


Clinical Laboratory Scientist Education and Training

Labs seek clinical laboratory scientists who have a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a related scientific field. Though previous work experience within a lab environment is not necessary, candidates who have this experience stand out against other applicants.

A brief paid training period is offered to clinical laboratory scientists to teach them basic lab protocols and safe specimen handling procedures. This training period varies by lab but is typically brief, generally lasting no longer than two weeks. Clinical laboratory scientists in training are closely monitored by a senior lab staff member or supervisor.


Clinical Laboratory Scientist Salary and Outlook

According to data from PayScale, clinical laboratory scientists earn $31.04 in median hourly income. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians earn $51,770 in median annual income, or about $24.89 per hour. These professionals perform tests and analysis on samples and specimens, performing many of the same tasks as clinical laboratory scientists. The BLS projects employment in this field will increase 13 percent through 2026. This rate is faster than the national job growth average.

Most employers provide health insurance coverage to clinical laboratory scientists. This coverage typically includes dental and vision insurance. Usually, clinical laboratory scientists also receive paid sick days, vacation time, and holidays.


Helpful Resources

Use these books and websites designed for clinical laboratory scientists and other lab professionals to search for job listings, browse educational resources, and learn workplace strategies and techniques:

American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science – browse through the ASCLS website to find job listings, career advancement advice, news updates, educational tools, and networking opportunities for clinical laboratory scientists and other lab professionals

Basic Clinical Laboratory Techniques – learn how to perform basic clinical laboratory procedures with the tips in this book, which provides step-by-step instructions for handling specimens, performing analysis, and using various lab instruments and equipment

Association of Clinical Scientists – get up-to-date news on clinical laboratory matters, explore useful links, and find upcoming educational events at the ACS website

Data Analysis for Chemistry: An Introductory Guide for Students and Laboratory Scientists – this guide to chemical science provides an in-depth look at testing hypotheses and performing other lab functions to analyze chemical data

American Society for Clinical Pathology – search for career opportunities, look through learning resources, find out more about certification programs, and browse research tools at this website for clinical pathology scientists

Clinical Microbiology for Diagnostic Laboratory Scientists – use this book to learn problem-solving techniques that work in laboratory environments, based on extensive scientific research


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