Careers in CLS
What is a CLS?
CLS stands for Clinical Laboratory Scientist. The title CLS is equivalent to the title Medical Technologist.
What does a CLS do?
Currently in California, all highly complex blood tests, urinalysis, toxicology, and microbiology ordered by health care providers must be performed by a licensed CLS. Sixty-six percent of the health care decisions are made on the basis of lab test results generated by a licensed CLS. Moderate and waived complexity tests can be performed by Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLTs) under the supervision of a CLS. Outside of the acute care environment, a CLS can do research, marketing and sales, education, quality assurance and consulting work.
Where does a CLS work?
Most CLSs work in hospital laboratories, reference laboratories or blood donor centers. A CLS can also apply his/her expertise in other fields including biotechnology, pharmaceutical sales and marketing, veterinary diagnostics and education. For more information about the profession, please visit ASCP Career Center.
Who can become a CLS?
In California, you must have a bachelor's degree, complete certain prerequisite courses and have training through an approved CLS training program to qualify for the ASCP national board exam. In addition, a CLS needs to have good laboratory technique, strong critical thinking skills, the ability to work under stressful conditions, a professional attitude and well developed communication skills.
Current Employment Trends
The number of job openings for CLSs is likely to increase in the next 5 years. Currently, 800-1000 CLSs are retiring each year in California while fewer than 200 new licenses are issued. This leaves a shortfall of 600-800 positions opening on an annual basis. In addition, 50% of the workers in California laboratories are 59 years old or older. If current trends continue, the State of California will lose half of its CLS workforce in the next 10 years.