Medical Laboratory Technologists

Occupation:Medical Laboratory Technologists

About the job

Nature of work:

Medical laboratory technologists conduct medical laboratory tests, experiments and analyses to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. It has been estimated that 85 percent of medical diagnostic decisions are made on the basis of laboratory results. Medical laboratory technologists may specialize in areas such as clinical chemistry, clinical microbiology, hematology, histotechnology, immunohematology, and cytotechnology. They are employed in medical laboratories in hospitals, private clinics, research institutions and universities. Pathologists' assistants assist at autopsies and examinations of surgical specimens or perform autopsies under a pathologist's supervision. They are usually employed in hospitals. Medical laboratory technologists who are also supervisors are included in this unit group.


This work demands accuracy and close attention to detail. You must have good manual dexterity and be comfortable working with instruments and technology, including information technology. Good communication skills and the ability to work with various health professionals are important. Although teamwork is essential, an MLT must be self-sufficient and able to work independently, be capable of critical thinking, and exercise good judgement. You must be flexible, open to change, and willing to keep pace with rapid developments in the field.

Medical laboratory technologists require a bachelor of science or medical laboratory sciences degree or a two or three-year college program in medical laboratory technology and a period of supervised practical training. Registration with the provincial licensing body is required to work in Nova Scotia.

Pathologists assistants require a bachelor of science degree or training and experience as a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or medical laboratory technologist and specialized on-the-job training. Certification by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science may be required by some employers.

Other considerations:

Depending on the size and type of institution, people in these occupations may be required to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Good

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is above average. This is a moderate sized occupation in Nova Scotia, with employment around 950, and so some job opportunities may occur through turnover. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow significantly over the next five years, which will provide additional opportunities for employment. With 25% of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to contribute somewhat to employment opportunities over the coming years. Medical Laboratory Technologists may either be working full-time or part-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are most typically permanent positions.

The median employment income for 69% of individuals in this occupational group who worked full-time, year-round in 2010 was $59,493. The median income for the occupation overall was $55,665
(Source: 2011 National Household Survey)

Estimated employment in 2011Estimated change in employment between 2011 and 2016Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2011-2016Estimated rate of unemployment in 2014 Estimated hourly earnings in 2013
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Below Average
Percent employed full-time: 74.7 %
Percent self employed:0.0 %
Where will I likely work?
Area of Employment% Employed
Southern Region12.5
Northern Region9.8
Cape Breton17.4
Industry of Employment% Employed
Rubber, Plastics & Chemical Manufacturing1.1
Other Professional Services1.1
Public Administration1.1
Health Care and Social Assistance96.7
What are the workers like?
Age% Employed
Gender% Employed
Education% Employed
Less than high school graduation certificate0.0
High school graduation certificate or equivalent0.5
Trades certificate or diploma1.6
Non-university certificate or diploma65.7
University certificate or diploma below bachelor9.3
University bachelor's degree20.9
University post graduate degrees2.0
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Medical Laboratory Technologist
Right to Title and Practice:This occupation is regulated in Nova Scotia. Certification attests that the holder has met provincial requirements for the occupation. A certificate is required to work in this occupation.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia College of Medical Laboratory Technologists
380 Bedford Highway, Suite 202
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
(902) 453-9605
(902) 454-3535
Useful contacts:
QEII/Dalhousie School of Health Sciences
6th Floor Bethune Building 1276 South Park Street
Halifax, NS B3H 2Y9
Tel: (902) 473-5510
Fax: (902) 473-5115
Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
33 Wellington Street North
Hamilton, ON L8R 1M7
Tel: (800) 263-8277
Fax: (905) 528-4968
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
Tel: (902) 461-0871
Fax: (902) 461-9572

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Clinical laboratory science/medical technology/technologist
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to conduct and supervise complex medical tests, clinical trials, and research experiments; manage clinical laboratories; and consult with physicians and clinical researchers on diagnoses, disease causation and spread, and research outcomes. These programs include courses in the theory and practice of hematology; clinical chemistry; microbiology; immunology; immunohematology; physiological relationships to test results; laboratory procedures and quality assurance controls; test and research design and implementation; analytic techniques; laboratory management and personnel supervision; data development and reporting; medical informatics; and professional standards and regulations.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
Nova Scotia Community College - Waterfront Campus
80 Mawiomi Place
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 0A5
(902) 491-1100
Program Name:Cytotechnology/cytotechnologist
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to work with pathologists to detect changes in body cells that may indicate, and permit diagnosis of, the early development of cancers and other diseases. These programs include courses in biochemistry, microbiology, applied mathematics, microscopy, slide preparation, identification of cellular structures and abnormalities, and laboratory procedures and safety.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450