Lab assistants and technicians help 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. Lab technicians may perform additional tasks like nucleic acid extraction and pre-analytical test setup.
Cytogenetic: Cytogenetic technologists or “cyto techs” perform a specialized collection of tests that allow visualization of chromosomes. This involves preparing metaphase slides from specimen samples such as blood, bone marrow, and cultured cells such as amniocytes, and other tissue types. and then “freezing” cells in metaphase so their condensed chromosomes can be examined under the microscope. Cyto techs then identify 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 genes 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 RNA and DNA from microogranisms as well.
Healthcare professionals who practice as technologists in California are known as Clinical Genetic Molecular Biologist or as a Clinical Cytogetneticist Scientist. Specific state licensing is required, for more information please visit: California Department of Public Health
MLS are individuals who are licensed to practice in multiple laboratory medicine disciplines, including Blood Banking, Urinalysis, Chemistry, Histology, Immunology and Microbiology.
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 and maintaining regulatory compliance. 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 or region where the lab is located, there may be two labs with operations overseen by the same role. For example: a research laboratory where tests are developed and a clinical lab where diagnostic testing is performed. There is great diversity in how lab spaces are managed.
The medical director is typically an individual with a doctorate who has fellowship, postdoctoral, or other training in medical genetics including molecular diagnostics and/or cytogenetics. Often, this individual is board certified in the technical area that they oversee. MDs and PhDs both qualify for this position but different states and regions 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 Laboratory Science. They have a searchable database for accredited and approved programs in the field.
MB: Molecular Biologist:
MDT(AMT): Molecular Diagnostics Technologist:
MLS: Medical Laboratory Scientist
SMB: Specialist in Molecular Biology:
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.
This flashcard deck can help clinical technologists and laboratory managers with laboratory operations challenges, including standard lab practices, QA/QC, safety issues, contamination prevention, and laboratory regulations. The cards can also be used as study aids for ASCP certification exams.
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.
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
Browse through a list of educational products continuing education packages and individual webcasts for different laboratory disciplines.
Check the AMP Program for Technologist-specific content, mixers, and events.
Join now and gain access to discussion boards and more educational content.