Medical lab technicians (MLT) and medical lab scientists (MLS) are two distinct careers with similar responsibilities. Many people are confused by the terms ‘medical lab technician’ and ‘medical lab scientist’ and often think these titles refer to the same career. Individuals employed in either of these occupations can work in the same settings and have similar responsibilities; however, the positions are distinguished mainly by levels of education and management responsibilities. In this post, you’ll learn the differences between MLT and MLS. These differences will span through the job outlook, their distinct responsibilities, educational requirements, and salaries.

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Medical lab scientists and technicians are crucial members of the medical team. They collaborate with doctors, nurses, and laboratory workers to diagnose illnesses. As the population ages, there will be a growing need for these professionals. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, 25,900 new positions are predicted each year for the next ten years. However, not all lab professions are the same, so it’s essential to consider whether you’d prefer working as a medical lab technician or a technologist.

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What is Medical Lab Science (MLS)?

Medical laboratory science (MLS) is a health profession that provides diagnostic services for disease detection and treatment. It involves critical chemical, haematological, immunologic, microscopic, and bacteriological analyses of blood, tissues, and bodily fluids. Accurate laboratory data is crucial for clinicians, nurses, and pharmacists to plan treatment and care.

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Who is a Medical Lab Scientist?

Medical laboratory scientists are professionals who collaborate with clinicians to diagnose diseases by performing laboratory tests on samples. Their work is crucial for clinicians to diagnose diseases. Medical laboratory science is a health profession that provides diagnostic services to detect and treat disease.

It is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission, and discharge are based on the results of the tests medical laboratory scientists perform.

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Responsibilities of a Medical Lab Scientist

Medical laboratory scientists have a wide variety of responsibilities and duties, including:

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  • Examining and analysing blood, body fluids, tissues, and cells
  • Relaying test results to physicians
  • Utilising microscopes, cell counters, and other high-precision lab equipment
  • Cross-matching blood for transfusion
  • Monitoring patient outcomes
  • Performing differential cell counts and looking for abnormal cells to aid in the diagnosis of anaemia and leukaemia
  • Establishing quality assurance programmes to monitor and ensure the accuracy of test results
  • Overseeing the work of a medical laboratory technician

Who is a Medical Lab Technician (MLT)?

Medical lab Technicians play a crucial role in hospitals and doctor’s offices, conducting lab tests on specimens. Their work helps doctors detect diseases and determine treatment options. Although not frequently encountered as patients, lab technicians are essential in medical care, often donning a full lab coat, mask, gloves, and goggles while collecting or handling specimens.

Responsibilities of a MLT

  • Setting up, maintaining, calibrating, cleaning and testing the sterility of lab equipment
  • Preparing solutions or reagents to be combined with samples
  • Collecting blood, tissue or other samples from patients
  • Medical technicians perform routine testing duties, while medical technologists oversee technicians’ work and perform more exacting tasks like high-tech molecular and genetic testing.

Work Environment of a Medical Lab Scientist

Medical lab scientists work in hospitals, clinics, forensic or public health laboratories, as well as pharmaceutical industries, biotechnology companies, veterinary clinics, or research institutions. Medical laboratory scientists spend the majority of their time on their feet, analyzing test results in the lab.

MLT Versus MLS: How Much Do They Earn?

According to the BLS, as of May 2022, the mean annual wage for a MLT was $59,130. Similarly, PayScale reports that the average annual salary for a medical laboratory technologist is $48,704. based on 1,337 self-reported profiles in 2023.

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The mean wage for medical lab scientists, as of May 2022, was $110,670, according to BLS. Also, PayScale reported that MLS earned an average of $60,707 annually based on 2,044 salary profiles in 2023.

Overall, MLS earns more money than MLT. This may not be unconnected to the educational requirements for both positions.

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MLT Versus MLS: Educational Requirements

One of the major differences between MLT and MLS lies in the educational requirements. Whereas MLTs must have a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree, at least a bachelor’s degree is required for MLS.

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MLT Versus MLS: What Tools Do They Use?

MLT MLS
MLTs can use a variety of tools on the job, including:

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Automated platelet analyzers

Chemistry analyzers

Coagulation analyzers

Phlebotomy trays

Medical software

In addition to many of the same tools as the technician, MLS may also make use of the following tools for the job: Laboratory diluters

Photometers

Urinalysis analyzers

Vacuum blood collection tubes

MLT Versus MLS: What Skills Do They Need?

MLT MLS
Dexterity and hand-eye coordination

Technology skills

Attention to detail

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Communication

Analysis

Organization

Effective communication skills

Sound intellect and interest in science and technology.

Excellent eye-hand coordination

Dexterity, and visual acuity

MLT Versus MLS: Where Do They Work?

They both work in the lab and perform tests on biological samples; however, a medical lab scientist typically has more education and is able to perform more involved lab work. Also, A medical lab technician performs more of the routine lab work and is often supervised by a medical lab scientist.

MLT Versus MLS: Job Prospect

Medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) are a promising career, with an estimated 11% increase in employment through 2028 for MLTs, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. This is more than twice the projected average for all occupations. Also, there is a projected 17 percent job growth for MLS from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average, according to BLS.

Final Words

Medical lab technicians (MLT) and medical lab scientists (MLS) are distinct careers with similar responsibilities, but differ mainly in education and management. MLT and MLS work in the same settings and have similar responsibilities, but differ in job outlook, responsibilities, educational requirements, and salaries. As the population ages, there will be a growing need for these professionals, with 25,900 new positions predicted for the next ten years. It’s essential to consider whether working as a medical lab technician or a technologist is more suitable for your.

 

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