Medical Laboratory Technologists

Laboratory tests have become increasingly important in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of many illnesses and diseases. Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLTs) are important health care professionals who perform laboratory tests and procedures on blood, tissue, and other bodily fluids by using instruments such as microscopes, chemicals, computers and complex laboratory equipment. They may also conduct medical research and analyses. The work conducted by MLTs is necessary for physicians to be able to diagnose, monitor, treat, and prevent disease.

Medical laboratory technologists may specialize in the following areas:

Clinical chemistry
Chemically analysing blood and other body fluids
Clinical microbiology
Culturing and identifying micro-organisms an
Hematology
Studying blood cells and their formation in health and disease, and investigating coagulation factors and disorders
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 or neoplastic genetic condition

MLTs are also known as Biological Sciences Technicians/Technologists, Health Care Technologists, Laboratory Technicians/Technologists, and Medical Technologists.

Working as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in Alberta

Medical Laboratory Technologists can live and work virtually anywhere in Alberta, as their skills are in demand in both urban and rural areas. Working in rural hospitals and clinics allows MLTs the chance to work in some of the most beautiful landscapes across Alberta.

Medical Laboratory Technicians work in and are employed by:

  • hospital laboratories
  • public health departments
  • pharmaceutical laboratories
  • veterinary research clinics
  • agricultural, industrial, government or private laboratories
  • post-secondary institutions
  • scientific supply companies

While most medical laboratory technologists work in hospitals, jobs are also available in:

  • private laboratories
  • community health clinics
  • public health facilities
  • university research labs
  • biotechnology companies
  • forensic medicine
  • armed forces
  • specialty labs, e.g. in vitro fertilization labs

In each of these work settings, management positions are available. Some MLTs go into teaching and train the "next generation" of medical laboratory technologists. Others become very involved in research and contribute to the worldwide advancement of medical and scientific knowledge. Advancement opportunities depend on ability and qualifications (experience and education).

Want to know what it's like to work as MLTs in Alberta, from real people in real work situations? Watch the Alberta Learning and Information Service's video on working as Medical Laboratory Technologist:

Video Medical Laboratory Technologist (high resolution)

Video Medical Laboratory Technologist (low resolution)

You can also read the Alberta College of Medical Laboratory Technologists' description of a career as an MLT.

If you would like more detailed information about working as a MLT such as, duties, working conditions, salaries, educational requirements and personal characteristics, you can read the various career profile for Medical Laboratory Technologist on Alberta's OCCinfo.

You may also wish to review the occupational profiles in these other medical diagnostic occupations:

Biological Technician
Canadian Forces Personnel - Non Commissioned
Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technologist
Medical Laboratory Assistant

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Registration and Licensing

Medical Laboratory Technology is a regulated profession in Alberta. The Alberta College of Medical Laboratory Technologists is the regulatory body for MLTs in the province of Alberta.

Membership with the ACMLT is mandatory in order to provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Only registered members may call themselves Medical Laboratory Technologists. Registered members of the College are responsible and accountable to the public for ensuring that their practice meets the legislative requirements and standards for the profession. As this is a regulated profession, it is mandatory that members meet identified competency requirements and undergo continued competency training. Laboratory workers who are not registered (regulated) medical laboratory technologists may only perform laboratory activities. For more information regarding membership and registration, visit the ACMLT website.

Internationally educated medical laboratory technologists need to register with the Alberta College of Medical Laboratory Technologists in order to practice in Alberta. Applicants will first have to complete Prior Learning Assessment with the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS), the national professional association and certifying body for Medical Laboratory Technologists in Canada.

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Remuneration

In Alberta, medical laboratory technologists work both in unionized and non-unionized environments. The private centres are non-unionized and the public centres (e.g. hospitals) are unionized. For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

According to the 2009 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, medical laboratory technologists earned an average annual salary of $67,668 to $69,465, with the minimum rate of compensation of $27.18 per hour and the maximum rate of $40.50 per hour.

Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

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Searching for a Job

To look for a position as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in Alberta, you can search using the Working in Alberta tool, or search through HealthJobs, Alberta Health Services' career website.

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Continuing Education

Alberta offers both diploma and bachelor's programs in medical laboratory technology/sciences. The following institutions offer medical laboratory programs that are at least two years in length:

Post-secondary institutions across Alberta offer university transfer programs that allow students to apply up to two years of study toward university bachelor's degree programs. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the courses they choose to take will be accepted for credit at the institution to which they wish to transfer.

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

In Alberta there are currently no bridging programs for internationally educated medical laboratory technologists. The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science can determine from the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) which approved refresher courses may be needed to help individuals address the gap(s) in their knowledge and skill sets.

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More Resources

Alberta College of Medical Laboratory Technologists is the regulatory body for the profession of medical laboratory technology in Alberta. It protects and serves the public, patients and members by regulating and guiding the profession - helping to ensure that Alberta medical laboratory technologists provide safe and professional services.

Alberta Learning and Information Service (ALIS) is the provincial gateway to help Albertans plan and achieve educational and career success! It provides information for career planning, post-secondary education and training, educational funding, job search, labour market trends, and workplace issues.

  • EDinfo: Information about programs of study and distance learning programs offered by post-secondary educational institutions in Alberta.
  • OCCinfo: Information about occupations (types of work) in a format called occupational profiles. There are more than 500 occupational profiles in OCCinfo. Each profile presents information about an occupation under the following headings: Duties; Working Conditions; Personal Characteristics; Educational Requirements; Employment and Advancement; Salary and Other Sources of Information.

Alberta Health Services

Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and the national professional society for Canada's medical laboratory professionals.

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) is a labour union representing more than 14,000 paramedical technical, professional, and general support employees in the public and private health care sectors of Alberta.

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