Medical Laboratory Technologists

You, like many healthcare professionals, may be challenged to find work in your profession when you first arrive in Canada.  The healthcare job market is very competitive and you must hold a valid license to practise in a regulated profession before you can work. The application process to assess your credentials, work experience and language proficiency can be expensive and lengthy.  It is especially so if you require additional language training or academic upgrading.  Consider a related career or “career option”.

If you decide that your skills do not align with your primary career of choice, the Health Career Options Guide provides information about career alternatives.

These career options may allow you to find meaningful employment in Canada.

*Note: Healthcare professions are not static.  They evolve as new technology, research findings and care models affect the delivery of healthcare.  The scope of practice of each professional is subject to change.  Changes may demand further education, certification and possible licensure for assistive levels.  Users of this guide should know that the qualifications listed for some of these career options may change.

Who are Medical Laboratory Technologists and what do they do?

Medical laboratory technologists are skilled professionals who perform medical laboratory tests, experiments and analyses to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. They work in medical laboratories in hospitals, blood banks, community and private clinics, research facilities and post-secondary educational institutions.  Some medical laboratory technologists choose to specialize in one field of laboratory science such as clinical chemistry, clinical microbiology, hematology, histotechnology, immunohematology, cytotechnology and cytogenetics.

What are the minimum or “entry to practice” requirements for this profession in Canada?

Candidates must complete a two or three year accredited diploma program in medical laboratory technology, and then successfully pass the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Sciences (CSMLS) national exam before they are eligible for work. This is a regulated profession in many provinces. The regulatory body or “college” of medical laboratory technologists issues licenses to those who qualify. Candidates must hold a license to practise in a province with a regulated profession before they can work.

Can I work if I was trained outside of Canada?

If your training was completed outside of Canada, your credentials, work experience and proof of your English or French language ability will be examined to determine whether your skills match those necessary to work in Canadian facilities. You must complete a prior learning assessment (PLA) through the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Sciences (CSMLS) and successfully pass the CSMLS national certification exam. Finally, you must apply for a license to practise before you can begin to work in a province where the profession is regulated.

Visit the CSMLS web site to learn more about the processes you must follow to work in Canada as a medical laboratory technologist. Note that fees apply and the process can be lengthy. Note, too, that the success rate for international applicants is much lower than that of Canadian applicants. Most internationally educated applicants require academic upgrading to be successful in the certification exam and licensure process. The upgrading, although necessary, will further delay your employment opportunity.

Can I plan for my professional life in Canada before I arrive?

Before you decide to come, view the Self Assessment Readiness Tool™ for Medical Laboratory Technologists   to compare your knowledge and skills against those required to work in this field. The tool offers case scenarios, examples of daily practice, a self check against the national competencies and information about the certification and licensure processes. The Self Assessment Readiness Tool™ for Medical Laboratory Assistants   may be of interest to you as well. There are fewer requirements for employment as a medical laboratory assistant.

The Job Search Process in Canada: Ten Steps Tool describes the skills and processes you will need to find a job. It describes language assessment, resume writing, interview skills, and the role of volunteering and finding a mentor.

Settlement agencies in Canada provide many services for newcomers.  These include both pre-arrival and post arrival information about language assessment and classes, career preparation, job search and other general information.  Click here to find a settlement agency in the area where you plan to settle.

What should I do if I can’t find work in my field?  Do I have options?

Yes, you have many options. The job market fluctuates for many professions so the demand for trained specialists is never constant. Many Canadians, who were trained for one career, may work in a number of related fields before they retire. For example, a physician may write healthcare policy, a nurse may work as a private healthcare consultant or a bilingual occupational therapist may translate health related documents as a fulltime career. They transfer their skills and experiences from one career to another. A career option, or an “alternative career,” allows you to focus your skills, abilities and work experiences in a different direction. Ideally, you might choose a new career with fewer restrictions such as one that does not require a license, certification or extensive retraining.

If your skills and abilities do not match the Canadian standards, visit the Alernate Careers site of CSMLS for a detailed list of career options.

References and links.