A medical scientist needs:
- good communication skills
- the ability to organise and prioritise work
- the ability to make clear and precise observations
- good problem solving ability
- to work well under pressure
Medical scientists work in laboratories, which may operate independently or can be attached to hospitals. There may also be limited opportunities to work in specialist veterinary diagnostic laboratories. They work closely with blood and infectious specimens, so must take care to follow strict safety procedures to minimise the risk of contamination.
The hours of work can vary, depending on the size of the laboratory. Medical scientists working in larger laboratories, particularly those attached to hospitals, may be required to work shifts, which include working nights, weekends and public holidays. Those working in small laboratories may work more regular business hours, though they may occasionally work overtime to finish running time-sensitive tests. Most medical scientists will also be required to be on-call in case of emergencies.
Depending on your specialisation as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, you may be required to travel to find employment in your specific field.
On average, medical laboratory scientists can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a medical laboratory scientist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Medical scientists use a range of highly specialised machines to carry out a range of tests. They may also use traditional laboratory equipment, such as microscopes, slides and materials to grow specimen cultures. Protective clothing, such as lab coats, safety glasses and gloves, must be worn to reduce the risk of infection and the contamination of samples. Medical scientists use computers to compile reports of their findings and keep records of any tests carried out. Medical scientists who are on-call will also be required to carry a mobile phone so that they can be contacted at any time.
To become a medical laboratory scientist you usually need to complete a degree majoring in laboratory medicine, medical science or biomedical science.
All universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.