Lab assistants help to process and prepare samples for molecular testing. Some can collect blood because of training in phlebotomy but most molecular labs have lab assistants who do work preparing samples and who sometimes help monitor and maintain instruments while they are running. Lab assistants might also perform tasks like reagent preparation, stocking, and ordering supplies.
Cytogenetic: Cytotechnologists or “cytotechs” perform a specialized collection of tests that allow visualization of chromosomes. This involves culturing tissue and then “freezing” cells in metaphase so their condensed chromosomes can be examined under the microscope. Cytotechs then sort and align the chromosomes to see macroscopic structural changes which might be linked to certain diseases.
Molecular: Molecular Technologists perform tests that examine and characterize RNA and DNA. This can be specific to particular sequences of interest or can be an examination of entire genomes or transcriptomes. Some laboratories focus on testing nucleic acids exclusively from human samples while others look at microorganism RNA and DNA as well.
Managers and Administrative Directors in molecular laboratories typically have experience in molecular technology as a technologist and often have a Master’s degree in a technical area or in business. Their responsibilities may include benchwork but will always include responsibility for managing staffing and operations for the laboratory. In larger labs, specific aspects of laboratory management like operations, quality, or education may be given to specific managers within the management team. Depending on the state where the lab is located, there may be two labs with operations overseen by the administrative director: A research laboratory where tests are developed and a clinical lab where diagnostic testing is performed.
The medical director is typically an individual with a doctorate who has fellowship, postdoctoral, or other training in molecular diagnostics. Often, this individual is board certified in the technical area that they oversee. MDs and PhDs both qualify for this position but different states have specific requirements for how each can qualify for this role.
*Please remember that not all molecular diagnostic programs satisfy the requirements for certification eligibility whether they end with a certificate or a degree. Researching programs before beginning is essential.
Start here: The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laborator Science. They have a searchable database for accredited and approved programs in the field.
MB: Molecular Biologist:
Click on the US Certification tab > Click on the "MB" link under the Technologist/Scientist Certification heading
MDT(AMT): Molecular Diagnostics Technologist:
SMB: Specialist in Molecular Biology:
Click on the US Certification tab > Click on the "SMB" link under the Specialist Certification heading
State Licensure (ASCP State Licensure Information)
Click on the State Licensure tab
Are you aware that certification is available for molecular technologists? Do you know what agencies offer certification for molecular technologists and are you aware of the eligibility requirements to apply for certification? Get answers to these and more in this free presentation by Dr. Susan Beck, which originally aired at the AMP 2020 Annual Meeting.
The AMP Training and Education Committee has produced a series of quick reference cards for trainees and anyone looking to quickly reference molecular diagnostics information.
These exam questions were written by MGP faculty from many MGP-Fellowship institutions and cover a range of topics. Each iteration of the exam pulls 45 random questions from a bank of 220+ questions. Though designed for MGP Fellows, it is relevant for all interested in molecular certification. There is a small administrative fee for each exam.
Specialist in Molecular Biology Board Certification by the American Society for Clinical Pathology & MT(AAB) Molecular Biology Board Certification by the American Association of Bioanalysts
Click on the "Get the MB(ASCP) Practice Exam" link or "Get the SMB(ASCP) Practice Exam" link
This is an online source for ASCP accredited continuing education topics with a molecular focus. Some are free to all and some are available free to members
These are online courses available (for a fee) in laboratory management, quality, and molecular topics
Browse from molecular topics related to microbial identification and surveillance
These webinars are free for members, or for a small fee for non-members. They are focused around molecular assays but have general information
CME programs on cell-free DNA screening and screening for childhood diseases - may not work for all licenses
Check the AMP Program for Technologist-specific content, mixers, and events.