Mandatory requirements

Applicants for this program are required to complete the School of Health and Public Safety entrance testing process as an admission requirement for this program by the set deadlines. Review admission requirements for more details.


The fast-track Medical Laboratory Assistant program is designed to equip you with the skills, applied knowledge and professional behaviour required to become a proficient lab assistant.

You’ll be prepared to work in various medical laboratories which are evolving rapidly to accommodate growing advancements in medical technology and healthcare. 

In this program, you will:  

  • learn to accurately collect, label and process blood, tissue and other specimens in a biosafety laboratory for analysis 
  • develop the technical skills to enter patient data into laboratory information systems 
  • gain experience in handling front-desk operations and office administration, including patient interaction and administrative tasks 
  • train to perform procedures such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) and urinalyses or point-of-care tests as part of a laboratory team of professionals 
  • gain professional responsibility, including scope of practice, ethics, communication, critical thinking, accountability and how to collaborate professionally. 

Engage in real-world scenarios to integrate clinical knowledge with practical skills. You’ll participate in a SAIT-arranged practicum in a medical laboratory and patient service center to refine and apply your skills in a real-world setting. 

As a graduate, you can pursue employment opportunities in various settings, including community health centres, hospitals, medical laboratories, mobile clinics, insurance companies, or private home care.  

You’ll also be eligible to challenge the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) exam to obtain national certification as a medical laboratory assistant in Canada. Visit CSMLS to learn more about their licensing requirements, mandatory registration, and declaration of conduct. 

Those in the medical laboratory assistant field need: 

  • fine motor skills 
  • critical thinking and adaptability 
  • effective communication skills 
  • the ability to work independently 
  • the ability to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and emotionally self-regulate 
  • the ability to use technology 
  • attention to detail 
  • to tolerate the sight of human blood and tissue samples 
  • the ability to assist in transporting, lifting and positioning patients and equipment and meet the physical demands of the job (for example, using your hand, wrist and arm for prolonged periods) 
  • normal colour vision 
  • the ability to sit for long periods (three to four hours) 
  • the ability to type at 30 wpm with high accuracy. 

Medical laboratory assistants need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for extended periods, which includes exposure to latex and disinfection chemicals. You must also be comfortable performing patient care procedures that may be sensitive or conducted in very close proximity to the patient. 

You may also work extended hours and shift work, including evenings and weekends. 

You are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for medical laboratory assistants to ensure you can successfully meet the occupational requirements for the program and profession.

You will participate in a practicum at a medical laboratory and patient service centre as part of this program.

You will be assigned practicum placements with consideration given to your preference of location. However, due to limited availability in Calgary, it might be necessary for you to travel or relocate outside the city. Special considerations will not be accommodated.

If you are beginning this program as part of the Rural Health Zone (RHZ) intake, all practicum placements will occur in rural Alberta, and will not include sites in Calgary or Edmonton.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, you will be required to provide specific documentation before you can participate in your practicum. Find out what requirements you need for this program. 

This program offers a Rural Health Zone (RHZ) intake, which takes place from May through October each year.

This intake has a predetermined schedule and uses a blended delivery model. You’ll acquire theoretical foundations through online classes in May and June and be provided hands-on simulated laboratory experience on-campus at SAIT in July and August, followed by a practicum rotation in a clinical setting. Practicum sites are solely located in rural areas of the province.

Please be advised that all courses must be completed within this timeframe.

To apply for student loans, students in this intake are considered part-time.

This program is accredited by Accreditation Canada. It is designed to ensure graduates achieve clinical competence as defined by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS).

As an accredited institute, SAIT Medical Laboratory Assistant graduates are eligible to challenge the CSMLS certification exam. Obtaining national certification as a medical laboratory assistant will allow you to work across Canada. 

After successfully completing this program, you’ll receive a SAIT Medical Laboratory Assistant certificate.

Download program info

Careers and opportunities

Each year, SAIT conducts a survey between February and April to determine the employment rate, salary and satisfaction of our newest SAIT alumni. 

people icon 92% graduate employment rate

salary icon $49,338 average starting salary

Find out more about our graduate employment statistics >

Our graduates may work in the following occupations. Some careers require additional experience and education.

Associated National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes: 32120, 32129, 33101, 33109.


Career counselling and support

Unsure which career path is for you? SAIT offers career planning services to help you decide your future.

You can also get started by taking our online career finder quiz, which can help you narrow down your search based on your current skills and interests.

Finally, you can also head to Alberta alis for various tools and resources, including additional quizzes and labour market information to help you narrow down a career path.


The Medical Laboratory Assistant certificate requires 19.5 credits (eight courses) to complete.

The program spans 21 weeks with two semesters.

View classes by semester

Course Credits

This course introduces the chain of infection, and methods to reduce the risk of transmission of microorganisms to healthcare providers and patients. Topics include immunization, routine practice, contact and droplet precautions, sterilization and disinfection, safety, and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).


Clinical Laboratory Foundations provides an overview of laboratory departments. Pre-analytical processes and microscopy will be introduced. Lab ware and equipment will be used for reagent and specimen preparation following quality assurance principles. Safety in the workplace will be emphasized throughout this course.


Patient Services introduces techniques commonly used for obtaining, accessioning and preparing specimens for analysis. The theory and practice of electrocardiography (ECG) will also be applied. Routine practices will be applied for all techniques covered in this course.


Clinical Integration provides an opportunity for applying foundational skills and theory in a simulated clinical laboratory. Learners will incorporate safe work practices, analytical procedures, professional practices and quality management into their daily laboratory work. Emphasis will be placed on developing time management, multi-tasking and critical thinking skills.


Clinical Laboratory Testing outlines quality management and testing procedures performed by medical lab assistants in a clinical laboratory setting. Routine urinalysis, point of care testing, and loading of specimens for analysis will be performed.


Clinical Placement provides learners with opportunities to apply the skills, knowledge and attitudes required for medical laboratory assistants in approved clinical laboratories.

  • MEDL 202
  • PROF 202

Professional Practice 1 introduces basic medical terminology and fundamental communication skills for working in a healthcare environment. Focus will also be placed on patient-centered care and governing bodies that direct professional practice.


Professional Practice 2 provides learners with opportunities to apply quality management system essentials necessary for working effectively in the medical laboratory professions and according to the scope of practice.

  • MEDL 200
  • MEDL 201
  • MEDL 202
  • MEDL 203
  • One of:
    • PROF 201
    • MEDT 211 and PROF 240
  • PRAC 271


You must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better each semester and pass the prerequisite courses to progress through the program.

To qualify for graduation, you must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.

Review our grading and progression procedure >


Explore your options!

Some courses in this program are available through Open Studies. You can complete courses via Open Studies to get a head start on your education, reduce your course load once accepted into a credentialed program, or determine which career path best suits you before you fully commit. 

You may also take courses for general interest or personal and professional development.

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

Applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency and meet the following requirements or equivalents:

  • at least 60% in Math 20-2 or Math 10C, and
  • at least 60% in English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2, and
  • at least 60% in Chemistry 20, and
  • at least 60% in Biology 20.

You must also achieve a mark of at least 50% in the School of Health and Public Safety’s entrance testing process.

SAIT accepts high school course equivalents for admission for applicants educated outside Alberta.

All applicants who were educated outside of Canada must demonstrate English language proficiency and provide proof they meet the program admission requirements with an international document assessment. Find accepted educational documents and assessment options

SAIT may also accept courses completed at certain international post-secondary institutions.


Academic Upgrading

Missing an admission requirement for this program? Upgrade your prior education to help you receive admission into one of SAIT's career programs.


English language proficiency

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.

Transfer agreements

At SAIT, we evaluate post-secondary credit you have previously earned and apply it to your SAIT credential. Explore our formal transfer agreements available for this program.

We can evaluate your prior education, even if we don't have a formal agreement in place.

Submit a transfer credit application

There are no formal transfer agreements currently in place for this program.

Transfer options for graduates

Build on the knowledge you’ve learned at SAIT. The opportunity to advance your education at an accredited post-secondary institution may be available.

🔗 Visit Transfer Alberta search tool for a full list of transfer opportunities within the province.

Available intakes

Fall 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Closed
  • Application deadline: May 31, 2024

Winter 2025

Start dates:

Domestic students: Open
  • Application deadline: Oct. 25, 2024

Spring 2025

Start dates:

Rural applicants only: Open
  • Application deadline: April 30, 2025


2024/25 tuition and fees

The following estimated costs are effective as of July 1, 2024.

Domestic students

The estimated total cost of tuition and fees for domestic students is based on the recommended course load per year.
Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 1.5 $4,699.50 $1,211 $5,910.50
Total cost:

*.5 indicates a combination of full-time semester(s) and part-time semester(s) in the same academic year. In many cases, students are completing a practicum during their part-time semester. Part-time students are those taking less than nine (9) course credits in a semester.

Books and supplies are approximately $700 per full-time year.

This is a bring-your-own-device program with a standard computer hardware and software requirement. See the specific requirements on our computers and laptops page.

Find your booklist on the SAIT Bookstore’s website. The booklist will be available closer to the program start date. Can’t find your program or course? The bookstore didn’t receive a textbook list. Contact your program directly to determine if they’re still refining course details or if you’re in luck; no textbook purchase is required this term.

You are responsible for additional expenses related to your practicum, including pre-practicum requirements and relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary.

Required personal protective equipment (PPE)

The industry-approved PPE you’ll need will be discussed during your first few days of classes.

Your required uniform can be purchased before orientation from any place that sells medical uniforms. Your uniform should consist of:

  • a scrub top and bottom
  • comfortable closed-toe and heel shoes. They should also be water-impervious and slip-resistant.

Students are not required to purchase safety glasses, but they can if they wish.

Tech requirements

You will be evaluated on your competency performance level using a tracking system called CompTracker. You will require a wifi-enabled Apple tablet that can run the most up-to-date operating system to support the CompTracker system.

  • Any size tablet is acceptable.
  • Keyboards are advisable but not mandatory.
  • Smartphones are not acceptable devices for CompTracker.

There is a required user license fee of $55. More information will be shared at orientation.

Additional fees

  • The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) national exam fee is approximately $250. CSMLS National Association dues for students are approximately $85. Refer to for more details.
  • A fee is associated with obtaining a police information check, including a vulnerable sector check, payable to the police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
  • You must have your immunizations reviewed by the SAIT Health Clinic. There is a $75 charge to review your vaccine and medical history. Any vaccines you need to be administered will result in additional charges.

Financial aid

Paying for your education may feel overwhelming, but we have resources and programs that can help, including information about payment options, student loans, grants and scholarships.

Canada Alberta Job Grant icon

This program is eligible for Canada Alberta Job Grant funding.

Application process

Before applying to this program, you must complete the necessary entrance tests.

Refer to Health and Public Safety entrance testing to find the required tests and deadlines and instructions on how to book your exams. 

Ready to apply?

Follow our step-by-step guide to submitting a successful application.

Learn how to apply

Communication during admission

Email is the primary source of communication during the admission process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications. 

We recommend you add domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. 


Begin your application

Apply now using the online application portal. 

Ensure you have a valid Visa or Mastercard to pay the non-refundable application fee of $120 for domestic applicants or $150 for international applicants. 

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.

Contact us

School of Health and Public Safety Advising

a view of the moutains and stream in between

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit'ada, Tawnshi, Hello.

SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.