Difference between MLS and MLT

 Are you getting confused about which of the following courses is best? Are you confused about the difference between MLT and MLS? In this article, I will be exposing to you which is best between both. Many students have engaged in noisy arguments concerning these two courses. MLS and MLT are highly competitive courses in the university, which makes them seem related in the medical field. That’s why students end up arguing about it.

I guess you are just an aspirant trying to know more about MLS and MLT, or maybe you were doing research on which of the two courses is best. Whichever way it is, you are in the right place because I will be exposing to you some secrets behind these courses and which is best to clear your doubt.

Well, before we proceed, let’s understand the difference between MLS and MLT.


What is MLT?

A medical laboratory technician is also known as an MLT. A medical lab technician analyzes bodily fluids and tissues for the proper diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For example, a medical lab technician might look at tissue under a microscope to spot cancer cells or other abnormalities. They might also ensure blood types match prior to transfusions or test urine samples for drugs.


What is the MLS?

A medical laboratory scientist is also known as an MLS. Medical laboratory science is the use of clinical laboratory tests to detect, diagnose, monitor, and treat diseases. Medical laboratory science is a five-year course that is studied only in universities with teaching hospitals. According to the course orientation, MLS students take general courses in their first year. In their second year, MLS students take college courses such as biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, and other departmental courses. In their third year, MLS undergoes a mandatory clinical posting in the college teaching hospital. 

In the department of medical laboratory science, MLS writes two professional exams, one in 400 and the other in their final year.

Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) has five undergraduate specialties, which include:

  • Medical microbiology(Virology).
  • Clinical chemistry (chemical pathology)
  • Hematology.
  • Histopathology.
  • Immunology.


MLS students in their final year choose their major and minor specialties ( major and minor are mainly doneatnUNN),)and when these specialties are chosen, MLS students write their last professional exam.

An induction or oaths-taking ceremony is conducted by the college to award their graduates their provisional license (MLSCN).

Graduates of MLS proceed to their one-year mandatory internship programs. Your internship money is amazingly high, thank you. You will make $1.3 million or more as an intern. After your internship, you are now qualified to look for jobs both in Nigeria and abroad.


Is MLS better than MLT?

Now that you have understood the meaning of MLS and MLT and their differences, let me now explain to you which is better between MLS and MLT following these few comparisons.

The number of practitioners in the U.S. 

335,500 as of Sept. 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Please note that this data is for “clinical laboratory technicians and technologists.

133,900 as of Sept. 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Please note that this data is for “medical scientists.”



According to the BLS, the mean annual wage as of May 2020 was $55,990.

On a more granular level, PayScale (Jan. 2022) reports the average annual salary for medical laboratory technicians is $43,093 based on 1,315 self-reported profiles.

The mean wage for medical lab technologists, as of May 2020, was $101,800 (BLS).

According to PayScale (Jan. 2022), medical scientists earn an average of $82,191 per year based on 54 salary profiles. According to the BLS, expected job growth will be 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. 17 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than average (BLS). 


Degree requirements 

MLTs need to have a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree, according to the BLS. According to the BLS (2021), a doctoral or professional degree is typically needed to become a “medical scientist,” although “medical lab scientists” generally have at least a bachelor’s degree. 


Degrees available 

MLT programs are typically called “medical lab technician” degrees and are often available in two-year formats through an associate degree. Medical lab technician degrees, by contrast, typically comprise four years.

Some postsecondary certificate programs are also available, but the National Accrediting Agency may not accredit all programs for clinical lab technicians.

Be sure to check before enrolling, as accreditation can be crucial to certification.

Accredited programs at community colleges offer several online, two-year MLT degree programs.

Graduates from these programs are prepared for entry-level MLT positions. 

Many MLS programs are referred to as “medical laboratory scientist” degrees and are four-year, bachelor’s level programs.

Be sure to clarify with the school what types of certification exams are accessible with a two-year or a four-year degree.

Post-baccalaureate certificates are available for bachelor’s degree holders to become certified medical laboratory scientists and access leadership roles or specialized laboratory experience.

Many online four-year MLS degree programs are available through reputable colleges and universities. Program details Students take courses in blood banking, clinical chemistry, hematology, and microbiology.

Students may also learn about equipment and technology, safety standards, and diagnostic testing.

Many schools have laboratories for students to practice skills and become skilled in lab work. Some programs are built from the ground up, while others accept MLT students interested in completing a four-year degree.

Nevertheless, a bachelor’s program covers many of the same courses as an associate degree but includes additional anatomy, biochemistry, chemistry, immunology, and math courses.

In-person laboratory experiences are often required in the senior year of a bachelor’s program. Usually, these experiences are done under the mentorship of an MLS in a lab setting. School accreditation The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Scientists (NAACLS) accredits medical laboratory technician programs. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Scientists (NAACLS) also accredits medical laboratory technology programs. 


Number of programs

There are 237 NAACLS-accredited MLT programs in the US as of January 2022. Similarly, NAACLS accredits 242 MLS programs as of January 2022. Locating accredited schools

Certifying exams 

MLTs take an exam to seek general MLT certification or certification in an area of specialty.

Certification is earned through organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the American Medical Technologists (AMT), or the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB).

Some of the specialized medical lab technician certifications available through the ASCP include:

Phlebotomy technician Histotechnician Medical lab technician Donor phlebotomy technicians The ASCP, AMT, and AAB offer general MLT certification.

There are many routes to eligibility for certification, depending on education and work experience. An MLS can also seek certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Some of the certifications available at the technologist level include:

  • Blood bank Chemistry Cytogenetics
  •  Cytotechnology Hematology
  •  Histotechnologist Medical biology
  •  Microbiology, Medical lab scientist , The ASCP and the AMT offer general MLS certification.

There are several pathways to eligibility for certification, including graduating from an accredited four-year program or having equivalent professional experience. 


State licensing requirements vary, but passing a certification exam may be part of the licensing process. Not all states require licensing. Not all states require licensing to become an MLS, but in those that do, some of these requirements can include: Completion of a bachelor’s degree Graduation from an accredited school Passing a certification exam Licensing Agency Students can find links to state licensing agencies for MLTs here.

Similarly, students can find links for state licensing requirements for MLSs here. 


Re-certification and re-licensing

Recertification and relicensing requirements vary by state, so applicants should contact their state’s certification board or state licensing agency for the most up-to-date information.

MLTs certified through the ASCP are required to take specific steps to maintain their certification every three years. Because recertification and relicensing can vary per state, applicants should contact the initial certification board or state licensing agency for more details

MLS who hold certification through the ASCP must keep track of continuing education through the credential maintenance program (CMP) and renew every three years to maintain their certification.


Responsibilities on the job

Some of the things a technician might do on the job include: Analyze bodily fluids, such as tissue samples, blood, and urine. Examine blood samples for use in transfusions to look at blood type and compatibility. Calibrate and sterilize medical lab equipment. Enter information about a patient’s results into their medical history. On the job, medical lab scientists might: Analyze findings and verify lab results. Examine biological samples for chemical content. Provide information about results to others in the medical profession, including physicians and researchers. Oversee medical lab technicians. Train newly-hired MLTs and MLSs Tools and equipment that they use MLTs can use a variety of tools on the job, including: Automated platelet analyzers Chemistry analyzers Coagulation analyzers Phlebotomy trays Medical software Medical lab technologists use many of the same tools as technicians and may also use: Laboratory diluters Photometers Urinalysis analyzers Vacuum blood collection tubes Opportunities for specialization and advancement MLTs can advance to a career as a medical lab scientist with more training and education.

Areas of specialization at the MLT level can include phlebotomy, histotechnology, and donor phlebotomy

Certification is often preferred by employers when hiring, and having it can help an applicant gain a competitive advantage. Medical lab scientists can advance to managerial or training positions and specialize in a broad number of areas, including clinical chemistry, immunology, or histotechnology 

There are also a number of master’s degrees available in clinical laboratory science or medical laboratory science. These programs are available to MLSs interested in learning unique specializations in a particular field of medical laboratory science.

Conclusion :

Now that you have understood the difference between MLT and MLS, it’s now left for you to choose based on the criteria we discussed. Try to compare and contrast by applying wisdom.


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