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Who's Who in the Lab: A Look at Laboratory Professionals

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Outlook for Lab Professionals

Clinical scientists accounted for 328,100 jobs in 2008, over half of which were in hospitals; the remainder worked in clinics, doctor's offices, blood banks, and independent clinical, forensic, and research laboratories, or for the government (such as the Public Health Service). Despite changes in the field, including technological advances that can automate some tasks, the need for laboratory professionals is expected to grow faster than the average employment, by 14% between 2008 and 2018. With population growth and aging and the development of new tests, the volume of laboratory tests will probably increase.

However, there is a shortage of education programs and applicants to many existing clinical laboratory education programs, and the number of working lab personnel has declined because of retirement and other reasons. As a result, some organizations have adopted incentives, such as sign-on bonuses. The professional assocations representing medical laboratory personnel have asked Congress to require the Public Health Service to apply Title VII to MLSs and MLTs with little succes to date. (Title VII forgives student loans for those who commit to serving in rural or underserved areas.) This shortage of laboratorians has been aggravated even more by the terrorist events of September 11, 2001 and the consequent increase in vigilance that the U.S. needs to take to protect itself against agents of bioterrorism, such as anthrax and smallpox.

For information on job opportunities, there are several web sites with job banks:

American Association for Clinical Chemistry's ClinLab Job Center

American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science's Career Center

Clinical Laboratory Management Association's Career Center

Labs Are Vital: Career Center

In addition, hospitals and labs in your area may have job databases on their web sites.

Another educational and career resource is AACC's Clinical Chemistry Trainee Council.

To search for an education program, visit the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences' web site:

To view a presentation on the many career opportunities available for PhD graduates in laboratory medicine, visit the AACC web site's Career page.

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