Download PDF

Contents

Working as a Medical Laboratory Technologist and Technician [NOC 3211 & 3212]

Job Description

Medical laboratory technologists [NOC 3211] conduct a variety of medical laboratory tests to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.

As a medical laboratory technologist you perform the following duties:

  • Conduct analyses of blood, urine and other body fluids
  • Prepare tissue sections for microscopic examinations
  • Conduct blood group, type and compatibility tests for transfusion purposes
  • Set up, operate and maintain laboratory equipment
  • Conduct quality control assessment of testing techniques

You may specialize in the following areas:

  • clinical chemistry – chemically analysing blood and other body fluids
  • clinical microbiology – culturing and identifying micro-organisms and determining antibiotic sensitivities
  • hematology – studying blood cells
  • histotechnology – preparing tissue specimens for microscopic examination
  • transfusion medicine – taking and testing blood to determine its suitability for transfusions and preparing blood products
  • cytotechnology – microscopically examining prepared cellular slides for evidence of abnormality or disease
  • clinical genetics – analysing patient tissue to determine the presence of a pre-existing genetic condition.

Medical laboratory technicians [NOC 3212] conduct routine medical tests and set up, clean and maintain equipment.

As a medical laboratory technician you perform the following duties:

  • Collect blood or other samples from patients
  • Conduct routine laboratory tests and sample analyses
  • Log patient samples and prepare them for testing
  • Set up, clean and maintain medical laboratory equipment

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile 3211, WorkBC Career Profile 3212, Alberta Learning Information Centre (ALIS) Occupational Profile

Industry Overview

There is currently a shortage of medical laboratory technologists and technicians in B.C.

There is an increased demand for general medical laboratory technologists. You may be in particularly high demand if you are willing to move to rural and remote communities in BC.

You may find new job opportunities in hospitals and medical laboratories that provide contracted diagnostic services. New job creation for clinical genetics technologists is also expected as a result of the growth of molecular testing.

Source: Work BC Career Profiles

Job Outlook in BC

job outlook in BC

Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for medical laboratory technologists & technicians within BC regions:

Region 2010
Estimated Employment
2015
Estimated Employment
Average Annual % Change, 5 Years, 2010-2015
Vancouver Island 590 660 2.4%
Lower Mainland/Southwest 2,230 2,480 2.2%
Thompson-Okanagan 300 330 2.3%
Kootenay 80 90 3.2%
Cariboo 90 100 3.8%
North Coast & Nechako 50 60 3.1%
Northeast 30 40 4.0%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions. [accessed October 2014]

You can learn more about working in BC from the following sources:

Types of Employers

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians work in many settings including:

  • Hospitals
  • Medical laboratories & clinics
  • Canadian Blood Services
  • Research institutes
  • Universities and government research laboratories

Salary

The average salary for medical laboratory technologists working full-time in BC is between $53,000 and $66,000 a year.

In BC’s regions, you can expect to make:

medical technologist wage

Chart from Job Bank Canada NOC 3211

Medical laboratory technicians in BC make between $44,000 and $53,000 a year. In some cases a highly trained, experienced technician may make more than $60,000 a year.

In BC’s regions, you can expect to make:

medical technician wage

Chart from Job Bank Canada [NOC 3212]

In addition to a salary, most full-time medical laboratory technologists and technicians receive benefits, such as paid sick days, vacation time, and dental coverage.

Working Hours

Medical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians work 35 – 40 hours per week. Your working hours vary depending on the type of laboratory. You may work rotating shifts of days, evenings and nights, including weekends and holidays.

Source: WorkBC Careers Profiles

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • you must be detail oriented and able to follow strict procedures
  • requires a high level of accuracy, both in work procedures and in maintaining concise records
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • ability to work both independently and as part of a team

Source: WorkBC Careers Profiles

Education and Experience

To work as a medical laboratory technologist or technician you require:

  • certification by the BC Society for Medical Laboratory Science and/or Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is not mandatory, but is usually required by employers

Qualifications

This occupation is not regulated in British Columbia.

However, many employers prefer you to be certified by the BC Society for Medical Laboratory Science (for medical laboratory technicians) or Canadian Society for Medical Science (for medical laboratory technologists). To learn about certification see:

Internationally Trained and Medical Laboratory Technologists & Technicians

If you wish to become a certified member of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science you must:

  • apply for a prior learning assessment (PLA). The PLA evaluates your education, training and work experience and compares it to the national standard.
  • write the CSMLS National Certification Examinations (if your PLA assessment is satisfactory)

For more information see:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For medical laboratory technologists, look for these related job titles:

  • Immunology Technologist
  • Clinical Laboratory Technologist
  • Cytotechnologist
  • Histology Technologist
  • Histopathology Technologist
  • Immunology Technologist (immunohematology)
  • Tissue Technologist – Medical Laboratory

Source: NOC 3211

For medical laboratory technicians, look for these related job titles:

  • Clinical laboratory technician
  • Biochemical technician
  • Medical laboratory assistant
  • Pathology assistant
  • Phlebotomist

Source: NOC 3212

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of hospitals, medical laboratories and pharmaceutical businesses in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Canadian Medical Directory
    Available at the Central Library, 610.92 C21
  • Directory of Canadian Healthcare Personnel
    Available at the Central Library, 362.11025 C21a
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “laboratories” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, see the following:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Medical laboratory associations in BC and Canada can provide assistance and information. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession: Examples at the Central Library:

  • Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science
    Available in print at Central Library, 610.5 C2122