How To Become A Medical Lab Assistant

By Ryan Leclaire
  4 Min Read
How To Become A Medical Lab Assistant

Around the world, millions of medical laboratories depend on lab assistants to obtain measures and process specimen samples. They also help in maintaining the apparatus, equipment, and supplies in these laboratories. For these reasons, they have become invaluable to the medical and scientific community.

According to Job Bank Canada, you can earn the highest hourly average wages in Alberta at $47 per hour, while the lowest average comes from Nova Scotia at around $13.60 per hour.

What Do Medical Lab Assistants Do?

Precise duties and job titles of Medical Lab Assistants vary since there are many categories of Medical Lab Assistants, such as medical technologists, pathologist’s assistants, immunohematology technologists, and cytotechnologists. However, the generic tasks of Medical Lab Assistants include:

  • Preparation of specimens for the examination which is done by cutting tissue and mounting the samples for viewing under a microscope
  • Monitoring of equipment and apparatus to detect any breakdown or error
  • Testing of the specimens by using a microscope and automated analyzers for the detection of the source of the disease
  • Analyzing computer-generated medical reports
  • Keeping the records and updating the patient’s medical files
  • Registration of patients and keeping track of billing and insurance records

Is This Career Right For You?

If you are naturally inquisitive, curious, love helping others, and are fascinated by the mechanisms of the human body, pursuing the profession of Medical Lab assistant might be the right choice for you. This is, in fact, the perfect career option for those who are good at chemistry and biology and have a strong inclination toward health sciences.

Where Are The Jobs?

You can start a career as clinical support staff in either public or private sector laboratory facilities. The outlook is great for people looking to dive into this field. People who are willing to travel can easily find jobs that pay in the $50,000 and above range. People who have to stay close to home may risk earning less money but will enjoy the stability and benefits. Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec are some of the well-paying provinces.

What Do I Need To Start With?

To enroll for the Medical Lab Assistant Career program at any college in Canada, you need:

  • High School diploma or General Equivalency Diploma
  • Proof of proficiency in English
  • VCC MEDC 1010 Medical Terminology (Basic) with a C+ or better, OR completion of Biology 12 with a C or better OR prior associated learning/training in a HealthCare field (e.g. Medical Laboratory Technologist, RN, Practical Nursing, Biochemistry)
  • A criminal record check

What Do I Need To Study?

The bare minimum requirement for starting a career as a Medical Laboratory Assistant is an associate degree from a community college or a vocational school. Schools also offer other courses such as medical terminologies and data entry, which can boost knowledge of the medical field and help you get a job more easily. Many colleges across Canada offer degree programs in medical technology.

Most colleges offer special on-the-job training, along with coursework. Medical Lab Assistants are also required to be licensed.

Where To Study?

If you’re serious about a career in medical lab assistance, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of colleges in Canada that offer stellar programs in this field. Some of the options you can explore have been listed below –

Are There Any Student Aid Programs?

Being a medical lab assistant doesn’t have to be expensive. You can make use of the financial aid options available to you. Second Career (Better Job), Alberta Student Aid, B.C. Access grants and Federal Loans and Grants are just a few of the options you can use to fund your education and get on your way to becoming a successful medical lab assistant.

What Else Do I Need?

  • Manual dexterity, along with sharp vision is required of a medical lab assistant since they handle hundreds of specimen samples. Alacrity and attention are needed
  • One has to work under pressurized conditions
  • One has to be computer literate and must have organizational skills, which will add worth to one’s resume

Frequently Asked Questions

Got doubts or questions? Let us clear the air on a couple of common ones so you have a better idea of what’s in store for a medical lab assistant. 

What’s the course duration of a medical lab assistant?

Depending on the college you have chosen, the duration of your course can vary from 21 weeks to two years. It’s best to confirm the exact duration with your preferred college. 

Is there a regulation for medical lab assistants in Canada?

Yes, there is. Regulation has been put in place to ensure that only registered, qualified and competent medical lab assistants work in various sectors, sticking to safe and ethical practices.


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