Become A Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA)


Exciting Opportunities in Medical Laboratory Assisting

A Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) is another fast growing and in demand career among allied health and medical professions.  Medical laboratory assistants are in demand in hospitals, major medical centers and specialized healthcare offices. Often, people who advance into this very interesting field already have a strong background in medical assisting, or phlebotomy.

MLAs are responsible for assisting phlebotomy technologists and lab technicians in collecting biological samples, operating technical equipment, data input, sterilizing equipment and tools, and maintaining laboratory cleanliness. The exciting thing about assisting in a medical laboratory is that you get involved in a wide variety of different medical laboratory sciences, including bacteriology, virology, parasitology, immunology, and mycology and automated processes with potential advancement to Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), or with additional education to department supervisor, laboratory manager, or even laboratory medical director.

Medical Laboratory Requirements

The requirement for most hospitals for MLAs is an associate’s degree in laboratory sciences, or an equivalent certificate. The major focus of the curriculum typically lies on chemistry, math, and biology. In addition to on-campus classroom instruction there also are many online courses available for Medical Lab Assistant, however, employers are looking for those who have hands on lab training or experience. Many community colleges and secondary schools offer laboratory training.


Medical Laboratory Assistant Pay

The pay for a MLA is usually between $15 and $21 per hour.  Of course the pay will vary from state to state and depending on the population and healthcare demand in your area. There are many units, specialties, and sub-specialties in a medical laboratory, ranging from:

  • microbiology, which receives almost any clinical specimen, including swabs, feces, urine, blood, sputum, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, as well as possible infected tissue
  • toxicology, which mainly tests for pharmaceutical and recreational drugs
  • immunology, which uses the concept of antigen-antibody interaction as a diagnostic tool, genetics, which mainly performs DNA analysis
  • surgical pathology, which examines organs, limbs, tumors, fetuses, and other tissues biopsied in surgery such as breast mastectomys
  • hematology, and blood specialty labs where whole blood is analyzed for full blood counts, and blood films as well as many other specialized blood tests

These are just a handful of the many different departments and exciting fields in a medical laboratory. If you are  just graduating from high school, or looking for a career that can open doors to bigger and better places in the healthcare industry, then you might want to consider becoming a Medical Laboratory Assistant.


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About Danni R.

What I do: Develop websites, write articles and publish informational content dedicated to past, present and future medical assistants, medical billers and coders, and other members of the allied healthcare professions.
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2 Responses to Become A Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA)

  1. Sally says:

    Dear Danni,
    Cool Post, For those interested in beginning a career in the field of health care, working as a medical office assistant is a great place to start. Beginning a career in this field can be accomplished in a fairly short amount of time, and leads to many opportunities and areas of interest.

  2. terrie white says:

    I am a soon to be graduate in the Medical Assistant field and was wondering what else I had to enroll in to become a Medical Lab Assistant.

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