Pathology lab careers

Learn about Lab Careers

Medical Laboratory Professionals

Have you ever had your blood drawn, throat swabbed, biopsy, had a urine specimen collected? Have you ever wondered what happens to these specimens and how you get your results?

What do Laboratory Professionals Do?

Laboratory professionals play an important role in your health by detecting, diagnosing, treating and monitoring disease. They work in hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, and reference labs and have undergone special training to produce quality results for patients.

Clinical lab scientists smiling

Meet a Medical Laboratory Professional

Working in a hospital laboratory, I touch the lives of hundreds of patients every day. Though they may never see my face or know my name, I make an impact on their lives.

I keep them calm while collecting blood when I know they are scared of needles. I am the one who discovers they are pregnant, determines that they are B Positive or have strep throat. I help your physician determine why you may be so tired—and that you need more iron or other vitamins in your diet. I am also the person whose heart sinks when we find cancer but who will be there monitoring how treatment is going.

Meet Medical Laboratory Professionals working at Johns Hopkins Pathology Core and Specialty Labs

Outlook for Laboratory Professionals

The need for laboratory professionals is expected to grow much faster than average employment, estimated 12% growth between 2016 and 2026. With population growth and aging, increased coverage of laboratory tests resulting from federal health care reform, and the development of new tests, the volume of laboratory tests is expected to increase. (Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians. June 1, 2018.)

Questions about Laboratory Professional careers at Johns Hopkins can be directed to Lorraine Blagg.

Become a Laboratory Professional

Is a career in the hospital laboratory right for you? Read about different roles in the laboratory. For each role, you will find links to training programs in Maryland.

Laboratory Aid or Lab Tech

Clinical Lab Technicians' main duties are processing samples which may include accessioning, receiving, aliquoting, and labeling samples. They may operate and maintain automated pre-analytical instrumentation, as well as participate in review of lab activities. Many are certified MLAs by American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or Medical Laboratory Assistant (CMLA) by American Medical Technologists. Laboratory Techs/Aides typically have:

  • Completed high school or GED
  • Received on the job training


Medical Laboratory Assistant programs in Maryland:

Phlebotomist (PBT)

Phlebotomists are allied healthcare professionals and work directly with patients. They are skilled in the art of collecting blood through venipuncture and skin puncture for laboratory tests and blood transfusions.

phlebotomy

Phlebotomists typically have:

  • Completed high school or GED
  • Completed an accredited phlebotomy training program
  • Collected blood from 100 patients
  • Are certified phlebotomists

Johns Hopkins Medicine hosts student rotations from the following phlebotomy programs:


Other Phlebotomy Certificate Programs in Maryland:

Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)

Medical lab technicians

Medical Laboratory Technicians are allied healthcare professionals. They perform routine tests in the laboratory using microscopes, laboratory instruments and techniques. They are trained in the clinical laboratory where they can be generalists or specialize in an area:

Medical Laboratory Technicians typically have:

  • Associate degrees
  • Completed an accredited MLT training program
  • Clinical rotation experience
  • Many are certified MLTs by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Johns Hopkins Medicine hosts student rotations from the following MLT programs:

Other MLT Programs in Maryland:

Find a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) accredited program here.

Histologic Technician (HT, HTL)

Histologic Technicians are allied healthcare professionals. They play a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease by preparing body tissue samples for examination on microscope slides. The histologic technicians operate multiple instruments and work with many reagents and/or antibodies to assist in showing any tissue abnormalities. Once the slides are prepared the pathologist can render a diagnosis.

Histologic technicians

Histologic Technologists (HT, HTL) typically have:

  • Associate or Bachelor degree
  • Completed an accredited HT training program
  • Clinical rotation experience
  • Many are certified HTs by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Johns Hopkins Medicine hosts student rotations from the following HT programs:

Other Histologic Technician (HT, HTL) Programs in Maryland:

Find a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) accredited program here.

Histocompatibility Technologist (CHT, CHS)

Histocompatibility technologists perform testing that supports haematopoietic stem cell and organ transplantation to ensure compatibility between the donor and the recipient.

Pathologist using microscope

Histocompatibility Technologists (CHT) typically have:

  • Bachelor's degree in chemical, physical, biological or clinical laboratory science
  • One year experience in a histocompatibility laboratory
  • Certified Histocompatibility Technologist (CHT) by American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics
  • May have additional Certified Histocompatibility Specialist (CHS) certification

Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS)

Medical Laboratory Scientists are allied healthcare professionals. They perform routine and highly specialized tests in the laboratory to diagnose and aid in treatment of disease, troubleshoot instruments, and solve problems with lab results and patient specimens. MLSs may expand their role into leadership, management, technical expertise, quality assurance, information technology, education, and research. They are trained in the clinical laboratory where they can be generalists or specialize in an area:

Medical lab scientists

Medical Laboratory Scientists typically have:

  • Bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science or life science
  • Completed an accredited MLS training program
  • Clinical rotation experience
  • Many are certified technologists (MLS, BB, C, H, M, MB) by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or American Medical Technologists (AMT)
  • May have additional specialist certifications (SBB, SC, SH, SM, SMB)

Johns Hopkins Medicine hosts student rotations from the following MLS programs:

Find a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) accredited program here.

Cytotechnologist (CT)

Cytotechnologists are allied healthcare professionals who prepare and examine cells from tissue and fluids under the microscope.

Cytotechnologists typically have:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Completed an accredited CT training program
  • Many are certified technologists by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Find a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited program here.

Specialist in Blood Banking (SBB)

Specialists in Blood Banking are allied healthcare professionals. They perform advanced laboratory testing, product manipulation, and management of Transfusion Services.

Blood bank lab scientists

Specialists in Blood Banking typically have:

  • Bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science or life science
  • Completed an accredited MLS program
  • Certified as a medical technologist (MT), medical laboratory scientist (MLS) or technologist in blood banking (BB)
  • Three or more years of experience in a blood donor center or transfusion service or completed an accredited Specialist in Blood Banking program
  • Certified as a SBB by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Find other Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited programs here.

Pathologists' Assistant (PA)

Training

A Pathologists' Assistant (PA) is a certified allied healthcare professional, trained to provide accurate and efficient processing of a wide variety of anatomic laboratory specimens.

This includes macroscopic examination and evaluation of all surgical pathology specimens and the performance of postmortem examinations. The PA plays a key role in assisting the Pathologist by accurately inspecting, measuring and describing each specimen, and then using his/her expertise to carefully select tissue samples from each specimen. These tissue samples are processed and turned into slides that the pathologist will use to render a complete and final microscopic diagnosis. The PA may also be responsible for the organization and operation of an anatomic pathology lab by managing lab personnel, writing and reviewing lab procedures, monitoring quality assurance operations, and overseeing the training and supervision of pathology residents, medical students and PA students.

Pathologists' Assistants typically have:

  • A MS degree in Pathology
  • Completed an accredited PA program
  • Certified as PA by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)


Johns Hopkins Medicine hosts student rotations from the following PA programs:


There are 11 NAACLS-accredited PA Programs in the United States, including one in Maryland:


You can find more career information as a Pathologists' Assistant here, as well as information on other accredited programs.

Pathologist

Pathologists are medical doctors that have specialized training to diagnose and characterize diseases. Pathologists oversee Anatomic Pathology (AP) or Clinical Pathology (CP) laboratories.

Visit the Department of Pathology Training Programs website »

Certification Websites

Professional Websites