Laboratory assistants are responsible for performing administrative and support functions, helping researchers and laboratory technicians fulfill their job responsibilities. Lab assistants usually work in hospitals, clinics, or medical centers and play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of patient illnesses. Although they require less scientific knowledge and training than laboratory technicians and technologists, lab assistants still perform basic medical tests and lab procedures and need the right post-secondary qualifications to complete their daily tasks.
Laboratory assistants need to earn a certificate from a reputable college. Besides classroom work, most programs require a workplace practicum component. In most cases, you can finish both your academic work and practicum placement in 16 to 20 weeks.
Other Certifications and Background Checks
Besides formal college training, most employers want their lab assistants to clear a criminal records check. In some cases, you'll need to have your police background check done before you can qualify for college programs. Some states and provinces require that lab assistants take qualifying tests to earn provincial/state licenses. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, formal certification requirements vary from state to state. Check with your area's department of health or board of occupational licensing for more information. Depending on your workplace, you may also need to complete a first-aid certification course to qualify for employment.
Lab and Technical Skills
Laboratory assistants perform simple lab and medical procedures, including collecting blood samples, performing electrocardiograms and conducting urinalyses. Good lab assistant programs, including SAIT Polytechnic's certificate, teach these important skills to their students. Lab assistants may also clean and maintain laboratory equipment, and knowing how to use cleaning equipment properly is important. A combination of college and on-the-job training will give you the skills you need. Finally, you will be working with computers for patient data entry and processing. Although you will receive college and workplace training in specific data entry systems, ensure that you have basic computer skills before applying for an educational program.
People and Communication Skills
Successful lab assistants may perform administrative duties and need to know how to write emails and answer phone calls professionally. Most lab assistants work directly with patients, whether through administrative or clinical work, and need patience and people skills. Although you'll build your interpersonal abilities through work placements, you may also consider volunteering in service positions (with children or at a retirement home, for example) to hone your skills.
- Photo Credit scientist professor working in the laboratory image by Canakris from Fotolia.com
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