How to Become a Laboratory Scientist

Medical Laboratory

Medical laboratory scientists are highly-trained professionals who analyse samples to diagnose and treat diseases. They collaborate closely with physicians to recommend the appropriate treatment for both individual patients and certain groups.

A medical laboratory scientist is a laboratory-based professional who assesses both the presence and absence of disease in samples from patients. They produce information and data from their laboratory work, and then collaborate with physicians to advise on the best form of treatment and patient care.

They also conduct experiments to look for trends in certain diseases so that they can advise the general population on prevention and cure of these illnesses. 

Their laboratory work will consist of duties such as: 

  • Examining and analysing samples, including body fluids, tissues, and cells.
  • Searching for abnormalities and diagnosing diseases. 
  • Cross-matching blood from donors for blood transfusions.
  • Testing blood for levels of an administered drug to see if treatments are effective.
  • Looking at test results and considering their accuracy. 
  • Testing new products. 
  • Consulting with physicians about patient care. 

Medical laboratory scientists have similar duties to medical laboratory technicians, and indeed, many scientists begin as technicians. However, medical laboratory scientists have more extensive theoretical knowledge and can do more advanced testing, including molecular diagnostics and microbiological testing.

To become a medical laboratory scientist, a candidate should have secondary qualifications in biology, chemistry, and maths. Most then obtain a degree in a relevant field and take a certification course that will give them a license to practice in laboratories. This typically takes about three years and will need to be renewed every few years. 

However, it is possible to enter this field with no tertiary education. Through this programme, relevant secondary qualifications are needed and the training process to become a medical laboratory scientist is slightly longer. Candidates should have some experience volunteering in a laboratory when applying for this position.

The laboratories that medical laboratory scientists work in are in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, blood donor centres, forensic industries, veterinary clinics, or other settings. 

Most laboratories operate 24/7, and many medical laboratory scientists work shifts – so they could need to work unsocial hours. They will generally be on their feet all day while working. 

 iThey will need keen science and technology skills and have the ability to perform tasks with precision. They should also be excellent problem solvers, and be able to deal with people’s medical conditions and personal information sensitively. 

What degree is most commonly held by a Medical Laboratory?


  • Associate Degree in Applied Sciences
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences
  • Bachelor of Forensic Sciences
  • Bachelor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science

Career Transportability across Countries


Transportability: Low
There is not much scope for working abroad as a medical laboratory scientist, because each healthcare system is different, and these professionals must qualify in different ways. If a trained medical laboratory scientist already had a working visa for another country, they may be able to secure a position. However, in this situation, they may still need to obtain country-specific qualifications.

What is the Salary of a Medical Laboratory?

ExperienceEducationAverage salary | year
AU$UK£US$
Laboratory Scientist1-3 yrs€40,000£46800$38815
Junior Laboratory Scientist3-5 yrs€48,087£60000$66540
Senior Laboratory Scientist5-10 yrs€64,000£67,098$72,000

What skills are needed to become a Medical Laboratory?


  • Laboratory Medicine
  • Microsoft Office
  • Healthcare
  • Hematology
  • Laboratory Skills
  • Research
  • Customer Service
  • Microbiology
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Leadership
  • Hospitals
  • Clinical Research
  • Blood Bank
  • Laboratory
  • Data Analysis
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Teamwork
  • Biochemistry
  • Time Management
  • Phlebotomy
  • Coagulation
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Public Speaking

Medical Laboratory Scientist

It’s an excellent idea for people in this profession to learn all that they can about medicine. Therefore, taking supplementary courses will strengthen an application. At FutureLearn, we have courses in molecular techniques and transforming patient care in diabetes, among other topics.
  • Genomic Technologies in Clinical Diagnostics: Next Generation Sequencing

    Understand new and established genomic sequencing technologies and how to apply them in clinical practice

  • Whole Genome Sequencing: Decoding the Language of Life and Health

    Learn how whole genome sequencing works and what it could mean for the future of healthcare with this free online course

  • Genomic Medicine: Transforming Patient Care in Diabetes

    Learn how developments in genomics are transforming our knowledge and treatment of conditions such as diabetes

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

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