University of Wisconsin–Madison

Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS)

Specializations

  • Bacteriology: the study of bacteria as it relates to the field of medicine.
  • Blood Bank Serology: the study of blood serums and related diseases or organisms.
  • Chemistry: the study of atomic and molecular systems.
  • Hematology: the study of blood and blood producing organs of the body.
  • Immunology: the study of the human immune system and its reaction to foreign bodies.
  • Microbiology: the study of bacteria and other microorganisms.

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • This is a Bachelor’s Degree level laboratory career.
  • Educated as generalists in the area of chemistry, hematology, microbiology, molecular pathology, immunology, urinalysis, and other body fluids. May choose to specialize in any of these areas.
  • Medical Technologists are healthcare detectives, providing vital lab analyses on blood, body fluids, and tissues using sophisticated techniques and biomedical instrumentation. These analyses are critical to detect cancer, determine infectious agents, diagnose disease, and monitor therapeutic and abused drugs.
  • Use microscopes to examine blood, tissue, and other body substances, as well as match blood types for transfusion.
  • In small labs they do many different tests whereas in larger labs, are generally specialized. Along with testing, also can determine budgets, troubleshoot sophisticated lab equipment, teach, consult physicians concerning lab results, and be responsible for the work of those they manage and teach.
  • Are often employed in hospital labs, clinics, public health labs, research facilities, technical colleges, university programs, pharmaceutical companies, industrial laboratories, and the military.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Need excellent critical thinking skills, attention to detail, communication skills, people skills, analytical skills and organizational skills.
  • Those in smaller labs like having a variety of tasks to do each day.
  • Technologists sometimes work under stress. They must work carefully and quickly.
  • May work shifts, weekends, or holidays.

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • Helpful high school courses include biology, chemistry, algebra, computer skills, and anatomy & physiology.
    • Shadowing in a medical lab is strongly recommended.
  • Education and Training
    • Should seek colleges/universities that offer majors in clinical/medical laboratory sciences (CLS) or Medical Technology (MT). Can major in biology. The laboratory component of any degree is completed at an associated hospital laboratory program.
    • UW-Stevens Point offers a CLS major with a MT option. After 3 years on-campus coursework, application is made for the Clinical Practicum experience at an affiliated hospital. Prerequisites exist.
    • At Ripon College one spends 2 years majoring in biology on campus and the next 2 years at Rush University in Chicago–receiving a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Medical Technology from Rush University.
    • UW-Oshkosh offers a Medical Technologist major typically spending 3 years on campus taking courses followed by a professional internship at an affiliated hospital. Application process is competitive; strive for a GPA of 3.2 or better.
    • Carroll University offers a 2+2 CLS major affiliated with UW-Milwaukee.
    • Course work includes general education requirements, chemistry, human physiology, algebra, statistics, body fluid analysis, hematology, microbiology, parasitology, mycology, immunology and molecular pathology.
    • Hospital Laboratory Programs give admission preference to students of Colleges/Universities that they are affiliated with.

    Educational Institutions

    Carroll University
    Marquette University
    Ripon College
    University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
    University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
    University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
    University of Wisconsin – Platteville
    University of Wisconsin – River Falls
    University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point

    Associated/Affiliated Laboratory Programs

    Agnesian Healthcare, Fond du Lac
    Aspirus Wausau Hospital, Wausau
    Marshfield Labs, Marshfield
    Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL
    Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire
    Veterans Administration Medical Center, Milwaukee

  • Method of Entry
    • One must complete a bachelor’s degree usually majoring in Medical Technology AND must pass a national certification exam administered by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP).
    • To be eligible for the exam, ASCP states an applicant must satisfy requirements in one of four routes.
    • ONE, a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college/university including courses in biological sciences, chemistry, and math AND successful completion of a National Accrediting Agency of Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredited Medical Technologist Program within the last 5 years.
    • Or TWO, Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT-ASCP) certification AND baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college/university including 16 semester hours (24 quarter hours) of biological sciences (1 semester microbiology), 16 semester hours (24 quarter hours) chemistry (1 semester organic or biochemistry), 1 semester (1 quarter) math AND 2 years full time accepted clinical lab experience in Blood Banking, Chemistry, Hematology, Microbiology, Immunology and Clinical Microscopy in the US, Canada or a JCAHO accredited lab within the last 10 years. At least 1 year must be supervised by a certified pathologist or certified medical scientist and certified medical technologist.
    • Or THREE, CLA(ASCP) certified AND baccalaureate degree. CLA(ASCP) discontinued in 1982.
    • Or FOUR, baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college/university with the same course work stated above AND 5 years full time experience in same areas stated above with at least 2 years under the supervision of a certified pathologist or certified medical scientist or certified medical technologist.
  • Professional Organizations

    American Medical Technologists
    10700 West Higgins Rd., Suite 150
    Rosemont, IL, 60018
    847/823-5169
    https://www.americanmedtech.org

    American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS)
    1861 International Drive, Suite 200
    McLean, VA, 22102
    571/748-3770
    www.ascls.org

    American Society for Clinical Pathology
    33 West Monroe, Suite 1600
    Chicago, IL, 60603
    312/541-4999 or 800/267-2727 (ASCP)
    www.ascp.org

    American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification
    33 West Monroe Street, Suite 1600
    Chicago, IL, 60603
    312/541-4999 or 800/267-2727 (ASCP)
    www.ascp.org/

    American Society of Hematology (ASH)
    2021 L St. NW, Suite 900
    Washington, DC, 20036
    202/776-0544
    www.hematology.org

    National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
    5600 N. River Rd., Suite 720
    Rosemont, IL, 60018-5119
    773/714-8880 or 847/939-3597
    www.naacls.org

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 1,500
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 164,800
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 187,900
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 14%
Expected Annual Openings: 6,250
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $63,534

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Technologists usually work 40 hours a week.
  • May work night shifts, weekends, holidays, and overtime.
  • With experience can move into positions of management, supervision, teaching, quality assurance, marketing, consulting, and clinical research.
  • Master’s degree in Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science is available.