Career Options

Most medical laboratory scientists (MLS) begin their career in the laboratory of an acute care or community hospital. In this setting, a medical laboratory scientist may be a generalist, working in all sections of a clinical laboratory, or a specialist, primarily working in one section, such as hematology, chemistry, blood bank, immunology, bacteriology, mycology, parasitology, or urinalysis.

Medical laboratory scientists may also be employed in laboratories in:

  • Physician's office
  • Public health
  • Biotech company
  • Medical equipment company
    • research and development
    • quality control
    • sales and service of laboratory instruments and supplies
  • Forensics
  • Governmental agencies
  • Military

Experienced MLS can become educational coordinators in teaching hospitals. They are also qualified to become laboratory supervisors. With experience, an MLS may take an ASCP exam to become a certified specialist in clinical chemistry,  microbiology, hematology, or immunohematology. Upon completion of graduate-level education, MLS qualify for faculty/teaching positions at a community college or university. Advanced degrees may also include such specialties as hospital administration or public health.

According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology's 2014 Vacancy Survey of Medical Laboratories in the United States, the average national vacancy rate for laboratory professionals is about 10%. This organization's most current wage survey showed starting salaries for certified medical laboratory scientists (MLS) as much as $36 per hour depending on size of hospital and level of responsibility. Some hospitals are offering sign-on bonuses and relocation expenses.