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Medical Laboratory Assistant

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

  • Avg. Salary $46,889.00
  • Avg. Wage $28.74
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 6,000
  • In Demand High
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) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Medical Laboratory Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Medical Laboratory Technicians

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

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 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 More

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

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
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

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

Thompson Rivers University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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.

Medical laboratory assistants are classified in the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3212: Medical laboratory technicians and Pathologists’ Assistants. In Alberta, 91% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

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.

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.

Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.00 $40.00 $25.22 $22.73
Overall $24.62 $40.00 $28.74 $27.00
Top $27.23 $45.00 $32.37 $28.84

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.

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.

Industry Information
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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