Numerous career opportunities are available to those interested in the laboratory sciences, ranging from government research and education to private industry. If you want to work in a laboratory right away, you can obtain a certificate in laboratory technology. If you desire to break ground in new technology or discovery, you can work to obtain a doctorate and lead your own research team. Many organizations offer on-the-job training to keep you employed as you achieve your career goals and objectives.
Clinical laboratory technicians operate lab equipment that analyzes bodily fluids and tissue. They log test results and communicate with physicians in reference to the lab results, and often use complex equipment. These technicians usually need an associate degree or certification in clinical laboratory science. Laboratory technicians who aspire to a higher position can become lab technologists, who perform duties similar to technicians but require more skill, such as manually preparing specimens according to specific instructions. Technologists need at least a bachelor's degree in medical technology or life sciences. Some hospitals will provide training to technologists in their last year of college. Limited spots are also available for technicians who have a degree in a comparable field, such as nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for medical and clinical technologists and technicians was $57,580 and $37,240, respectively, in 2012.
If your goal is to conduct research in product development, consider becoming a chemist or materials scientist. These professionals supervise subordinates on how to process specimens and mix lab ingredients. They also write technical reports and present research findings. A bachelor's degree in chemistry or related field is necessary for entry into the field. However, many jobs involving research require a master's or doctoral degree. Chemists and scientists who obtain doctoral degrees can lead research teams and perform cutting-edge work in laboratory science. The BLS reports that the median yearly income for chemists and material scientists was $73,060 in 2012.
Lab specialists who want to work in the criminal field can become forensic science technicians, who collect evidence from crime scenes including bodily fluids, weapons and fingerprints. Forensic science technicians take photographs and sketches of crime scenes and use laboratory equipment to explore connections between suspects and collected evidence. As a forensic science technician, you will consult with other specialists in similar fields such as toxicology and odontology. Forensic science technicians working primarily in laboratories often specialize in engineering or natural sciences. You need a minimum of a bachelor's degree to become a forensic scientist. If you want to study crime scenes, you also need on-the-job training. The median pay for forensic science technician was $52,840 a year as of 2012.
Phlebotomists use intravenous needles to draw blood from patients and immediately label specimens after they collect the samples. Phlebotomists often are the only laboratory representative patients will interact with, and therefore must be adept at calming patients and lessening their fear of needles. Most employers require you hold a certification or diploma from an accredited phlebotomy school. The BLS reports that the median pay for a phlebotomist was $29,730 a year in 2012.