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Medical Laboratory Assistant

Medical laboratory assistants perform various clerical and preparatory tasks to aid in generating patient test results.

Also Known As

Laboratory Technician

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Medical Laboratory Technicians (3212) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Medical Laboratory Technicians (D212) 
  • 2011 NOC: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants (3212) 
  • 2016 NOC: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants (3212) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Medical Laboratory Technicians

2006 NOC: 3212

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in compiling information derived from blood, tissue and other samples collected from patients; and in collecting and receiving tissue samples from patients


Interest in setting up medical laboratory equipment; and in cleaning and maintaining laboratory


Interest in assisting medical personnel to conduct laboratory tests and sample analyses

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Updated Mar 31, 2018

Medical laboratory assistants work under the direction of various medical professionals. These include pathologists, medical lab technologists, and combined lab and x-ray technologists.

Duties vary but, in general, medical laboratory assistants:

  • label and sort tissue samples and specimens
  • load and operate lab testing equipment
  • collect blood samples and body fluids from patients for lab testing
  • prepare slides of blood and other fluids for study under a microscope
  • perform simple tests on body fluids using control procedures
  • make chemical solutions and stocks of culture media
  • plant specimens to culture bacteria
  • use computers to input data
  • follow quality control and safety standards
  • dispose of hazardous waste
  • clean and sterilize lab utensils and equipment
  • maintain stock levels of lab supplies.

They also may answer phone calls and keep records.

Medical laboratory assistants may work in areas such as:

  • biochemistry (studying chemical reactions in the body)
  • cytology (studying the structure and function of cells)
  • hematology (analyzing diseases of the blood and blood-forming tissues)
  • histopathology (examining the structure of diseased tissue)
  • immunology (examining how the immune system works)
  • microbiology (studying bacteria and viruses).
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Hours of work vary. Medical laboratory assistants may work full time, part time, or casual relief hours. In diagnostic labs they may rotate day, evening, and night shifts. This may include weekends and holidays. In research labs they often work standard weekday hours.

Medical laboratory assistants may spend a lot of time standing or sitting in a lab. They may have to perform repetitive tasks. They must follow safety precautions. These measures reduce the risk of exposure to infectious body fluids, dangerous chemicals, or hazardous radiation.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Medical laboratory assistants need to possess:

  • the ability to follow instructions
  • the ability to pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work quickly, carefully and precisely
  • good fine motor skills to handle specimens and small lab equipment
  • normal colour vision
  • good listening, speaking and writing skills
  • an aptitude for solving problems
  • an aptitude for being organized
  • the people skills to work well with co-workers and the public
  • a basic grasp of biology and medical terms
  • a thorough knowledge of lab safety procedures
  • basic computer skills
  • good skills at keeping records
  • basic math skills
  • the practical skills to operate and maintain lab equipment.

They should enjoy:

  • taking a step-by-step approach to their work
  • setting up and maintaining lab equipment
  • helping people and assisting medical personnel.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education High school diploma

Employers prefer to hire high school graduates who have completed a related post-secondary program.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

ABES (Alberta Business and Educational Services) - Calgary
Lethbridge College
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Red Deer Polytechnic
Thompson Rivers University

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Certification through the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is voluntary. However, it can be an asset when looking for employment. Certification requires successful completion of an exam.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Medical laboratory assistants work in:

  • private diagnostic testing labs
  • hospitals
  • doctors’ offices and clinics
  • public and private research institutes.

Experienced medical laboratory assistants may move into related jobs in:

  • industrial process or manufacturing company labs
  • pharmaceutical company labs
  • veterinary labs
  • government science labs.

Advancement opportunities depend on the assistant’s ability, experience, and education.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3212: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants occupational group, 94.5% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3212: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 243 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants

2016 NOC: 3212
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3212 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.73 $38.62 $25.44 $22.82
Overall $25.54 $49.14 $35.45 $35.17
Top $27.50 $50.53 $45.86 $50.53

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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