"To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease."  —Andrew T. Still, MD, DO

"As a family physician, my job is listening to people's stories."
—Jon S. Hallberg, MD

Clinical Laboratory Science

Career Info

Laboratory tests play an important role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. Clinical Laboratory Scientists, also known as Medical Technologists or Medical Laboratory Scientists, are formally prepared, multi-skilled health care providers who perform these tests in conjunction with pathologists and other physicians or scientists. Through the use of precise methodologies and technologies, CLS’s develop data on blood, urine, and other body fluids and tissues of the human body, which help to diagnose and treat diseases and assess general health. Tasks that a CLS may do on a daily basis include: prepare bodily fluids and tissues for analysis; perform tests ordered by physicians; isolate & identify bacteria, parasites and microorganisms causing disease; analyze chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions; and test for drug levels in blood to show how a patient is responding to treatment.

Most CLS’s are employed in hospital laboratories. Others are employed in physicians’ private laboratories and clinics, in industrial medical laboratories, in pharmaceutical houses, in numerous private and public research programs dedicated to the study of diseases, by the armed forces, by state and federal health agencies, and as faculty of accredited programs preparing medical laboratory personnel. CLS’s who work in small laboratories perform many types of tests, whereas those in large laboratories usually specialize. Specialty areas include: clinical chemistry, microbiology, blood bank, immunology, cytotechnology and molecular biology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for CLS/MT’s in 2023 was $60,780. CLS employment is expected to increase 5% by 2032.

For more information

Occupational Outlook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm

O*NET: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2011.00

Education & Training

A person licensed as a CLS has usually earned a bachelor’s degree with required coursework in one of the life sciences (typically biology or microbiology) in order to qualify for a CLS Trainee license and entry into an approved internship program. The internship is generally one year and includes practical laboratory training in all specialty areas.  Graduates of the internship program must then pass a comprehensive written exam to obtain a CLS license.

Course Requirements

Note:  Admission prerequisites vary by institution.  Some schools will not accept AP credit for prerequisites.  Check requirements carefully!

See below for an example of admission course prerequisites that may be required at CA programs. Please research professional programs for the specific admission requirements. If you need guidance on how to search for schools, please see the Peer Advisors during drop-in hours. 

Biology: Bio 161, Bio 351, Mcro 224, & Mcro 225

Advanced Biology:
Hematology:  Bio 428
Immunology:  Bio 426
Medical Microbiology:  Mcro 423

General Chemistry: Chem 127, 128, 129

Advanced Chemistry: 
Organic:  Chem 312 or 216, 217/220, 218/223
  • Note: Biochemistry & Chemistry majors should enroll in Chem 216, 217/221, 218/324
Quant. Analysis:  Chem 331
  • Note: This is an impacted course. Offered Fall and Spring terms. Best to enroll in Spring term of junior year.
Biochemistry:  Chem 314 (previously known as Chem 313) or Chem 369 (previously known as Chem 371)
  • Note: Biochemistry requires Chem 312 or Chem 216 & 217/220 as a prerequisite.

Physics: Phys 121, 122, 123 or Phys 141, 142, 143

College Mathematics: 1 - 3 quarters; statistics and/or calculus preferred
  • Note: Math requirements vary widely between programs. Check individual program requirements closely.


Additional Recommended classes

Additional Biology:
Genetics: Bio 351 or Bio 303 or Bio 302
Histology: Bio 410
Cell Biology:  Bio 452

Cellular/Molecular Biology
Anatomy/Physiology:  Bio 231, 232 (for all majors except Bio) or Bio 361, 406-409, & 426

Metabolism:  Chem 372 
Molecular Biology:  Chem 373 and/or Bio/Chem 475

Computer Literacy

*Please come in to see us if you have any questions.

Last updated: 09/08/2022.

Professional Association Links

To find a list of nationally accredited training programs, visit the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences website at www.naacls.org/Find-a-Program.aspx (set the "Program Type" filter to "Medical Laboratory Scientist" before searching).

For a list of approved programs in California, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OSPHLD/LFS/CDPH%20Document%20Library/P-Approved-CLS-Training-Programs.pdf

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