Medical laboratory assistant
Laboratory & Medical Technical

Medical laboratory assistants help and support scientists in medical laboratories. They have duties such as making up chemical solutions, labelling specimens, cleaning and sterilising equipment, and using computers to record and study experiment results.

Work Activities

Medical laboratory assistants support the work of biomedical scientists, helping them to analyse medical samples, for example, of blood and tissue. This helps doctors to diagnose disease and decide on treatment.

They have tasks such as:

  • making up chemical solutions
  • sorting blood and tissue samples
  • carefully removing chemical and biological waste
  • labelling tubes and bottles
  • looking after equipment stocks and ordering replacements when needed
  • cleaning and sterilising equipment.

They also record and analyse information from experiments, often on computers.

Clerical duties include recording the arrival of specimens and sending results to hospital departments.

Medical laboratory assistants can specialise in one area of work. With experience, they can train and supervise other staff, or have increased responsibility for tasks such as controlling stock.

Some assistants specialise as phlebotomists. This involves taking blood from patients, labelling it accurately, protecting it from damage, and delivering it promptly and safely to the right laboratory.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of medical laboratory assistants include:

  • NHS hospital medical laboratories and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)
  • the Health Protection Agency (part of Public Health England)
  • private hospitals
  • the pharmaceutical industry
  • government scientific research departments
  • the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency
  • forensic laboratories.


You can apply directly for vacancies and then receive training on-the-job.

It's possible to enter and train through an Intermediate, Advanced Level or Degree Apprenticeship.

To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels/ Highers.

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