About the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science

Clinical laboratory scientists (medical laboratory scientists, medical technologists) conduct laboratory tests on patient samples to provide information needed to diagnose or monitor treatment. Examples of common laboratory tests include tests to detect anemia, diagnose diabetes or strep throat, or provide a transfusion to an accident victim.

Professional Duties include:

  • Operate computerized instruments
  • Identify abnormal cells
  • Assure safe transfusion of blood products
  • Culture and identify bacteria
  • Correlate test results with patient condition
  • Select and evaluate lab equipment
  • Select, orient, and evaluate employees
  • Monitor the quality of testing

Consider this profession if you:

  • Have a strong interest in science
  • Want a career in health care with minimal patient contact
  • Like challenge and responsibility
  • Like to solve problems
  • Are a team player
  • Work well under pressure
  • Are self motivated
  • Enjoy working with computers

The program at ECU consists of two years of pre-professional study including four semesters or chemistry and three semesters of biology as well as completion of foundations curriculum requirements. The professional phase consists of five semesters.

The junior year consists of on-campus classes and student laboratories in the four major disciplines of hematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology and immunohematology. During the senior year, students are on rotation at an affiliated hospital. Additional classes in management, education, research and special topics are taken on campus.

Upon completion of the CLS program, which is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS - Rosemont, IL), ECU CLS graduates are awarded a B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Science. They may then take the national certification exam offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Successful completion of the exam grants nationally recognized professional credentials as a generalist in medical laboratory science.

Between 2014 and 2016, the program's student retention rate was 100%. For this timeline, graduates demonstrated a 87% first-time pass rate on the national ASCP certification exam. Of those graduates who sought laboratory-related jobs, 100% were employed within 6 months.

The ASCP 2014 Vacancy Survey of Medical Laboratories in the United States were as follows: blood bank (transfusion services) 11.2%, clinical chemistry 10.4%, core lab (combination of laboratory areas) 12.1%, hematology 6.6%, and microbiology 8.2%. View the ASCP vacancy survey (pdf).

The ASCP 2013 Wage Survey of Clinical Laboratories in the United States found the national average hourly wage for a certified medical laboratory scientist (MLS) to be $28.39. Hourly wages varied by geographic location, worksite, size of hospital/laboratory, professional education, certification and experience, as well as assigned duties (supervisor, etc.).  View the ASCP wage survey (pdf).