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What is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist?

Clinical Laboratory Scientists (Medical Laboratory Scientists or Medical Technologists) are health-care professionals that provide a vital role in modern medicine. Clinical Laboratory Scientists are extensively educated in all aspects of laboratory medicine. They are responsible for providing accurate information to physicians so that they may:

  • diagnose, monitor and treat disease
  • monitor patient health
  • practice preventative medicine 
CLS lab

It is estimated that 70% of all medical decisions made by physicians are based on this vital information provided by Clinical Laboratory Scientists.  

The work of a Clinical Laboratory Scientist involves a wide variety of responsibilities in several areas of laboratory medicine. Some of the tasks performed include:

  • identification of infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites
  • analysis of blood to detect disorders such as leukemia, hemophilia and immunodeficiency
  • measuring the presence of antibodies in blood to indicate infection with agents like HIV
  • assuring the quality of blood for transfusions

In addition to conducting the laboratory tests, the Clinical Laboratory Scientist:

  • assures the quality of test data
  • compares and selects appropriate laboratory methods and instruments
  • provides physicians with information on the validity and significance of test results
  • supervises other laboratory personnel

If you enjoy the challenge of running clinical laboratory tests and being a vital part of a health care team committed to improving patient health and saving lives, a career in Clinical Laboratory Science may be for you!  

Top 10 Reasons to Become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist 

10Excellent starting salaries and job security
9: Ability to work anywhere in the United States
8: Large range of diverse job responsibilities
7: Opportunity to perform state-of-the-art diagnostic laboratory procedures with sophisticated instrumentation
6: Work in a laboratory where you use your mind to solve medical puzzles on a daily basis
5: Excellent opportunities for advancement
4: Acquire an excellent background for continuing education in graduate or medical school
3: Fill a critical national need due to the current demand for Clinical Laboratory Scientists in the United States
2: Be a vital member of a modern health care team that provides the majority of information used to diagnose and treat disease
1: The opportunity to improve patient health and save lives as a result of your laboratory and problem-solving skills

This profession requires American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification. All students in this program that successfully complete all requirements for the major are eligible to take the ASCP MLS certification exam. After obtaining certification, additional licensure requirements may be needed based on the state you work in. 

Professional Licensure Disclosure

If you plan to apply for licensure in a state other than Wisconsin after completion of this program, you should refer to the Professional Licensure Disclosure website and contact the other state's appropriate licensing board to determine whether the UWL program meets licensure requirements in that state.

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If you also have plans to pursue an advanced degree, you should consider the Dual Degree Program in Clinical Laboratory Science and Clinical Microbiology, which enables a UWL student to earn both a Bachelor of Science degree in clinical laboratory science (CLS) and a Master of Science degree in microbiology with emphasis in clinical microbiology in six years.


Congratulations Marisa!

Marisa Barbknecht, a teaching professor in the Microbiology Department, is one of seven UWL faculty to earn a 2023 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award.