From medical laboratories, testing facilities and doctor’s offices to large lab facilities, food ingredient labs and industrial labs, Life Science Laboratory Assistants participate in a wide range of testing procedures that can be very rewarding. Most lab assistants enjoy working in a stable environment where testing is consistent and lab processes and procedures are clearly defined. If you enjoy science and math, excel at getting the details right, possess dexterity and can communicate well with others; if the testing processes and life sciences intrigue you, this might be the profession that will make your career path flourish like never before.
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The Life Science Laboratory Assistant Certificate of Specialization is a 16-credit hour program designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in life science research, development and production. Students in this program will learn to master basic lab techniques and methods used in life science research and development laboratories such as pipetting, DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction, centrifugation and more. Students will also learn laboratory math to support their life science lab skills as well as the language skills they will need to effectively communicate with others in the field.
This 16-credit hour program is designed to be earned in one year, as two consecutive semesters, and to serve as a bridge into the Biotechnology AAS degree program and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs.
Additionally, the certificate is earned as part of what is called a learning community environment. This means supportive groups of students will attend all the same classes together at the same time. Additional support includes tutoring, small class sizes, career readiness training, job-seeking assistance and biotechnology industry exposure and networking. Students can expect to gain hands-on experience in a biotechnology lab.
All classes are taught at the state-of-the-art Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park at the Danforth Plant Science Center, near Monsanto in Creve Coeur. This location provides students with additional opportunities to network within the biotechnology industry as well as tour labs in the BRDG Park building and the neighboring Danforth Plant Science Center.
Due to the limited class size of the program, interested students must complete a program application, earn acceptable scores on the required placement tests, and complete interviews as needed to be eligible for admission.
OPPORTUNITIES IN THIS FIELD
Since the program’s inception, graduates of the program have gained employment at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, Monsanto, Washington University, American Red Cross and more. Most of the graduates of the program continue their education in associate degree programs, including Nursing, Science Engineering and Biotechnology. Six of the credits earned in the Life Science Lab Assistant program apply to the AAS degree in Biotechnology.
Employment of medical laboratory technologists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of medical laboratory technicians is projected to grow 30 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the general population ages, more lab technicians will be needed to staff the labs that are required to diagnose a wide range of illnesses. Additionally, with the retirement of long-time staff, more lab assistants will be crucial to filling these empty positions. Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed. Eventually, lab technicians usually go on to obtain their bachelor’s degree and become technologists in their field.
Individual salaries vary by geographic location, the technician’s education and experience, and the type and size of the employer. For the latest salary range and employment information click on the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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