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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.


A medical laboratory assistant is an integral member of the laboratory workforce, a field that is not only growing to meet the needs of an increasing and aging population but also changing to support medical and technological advances.

The Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) fast-track program will train you to collect, process, and prepare patient specimens, enter data, perform clerical and reception services, perform electrocardiograms and urinalyses, and carry out basic laboratory procedures.

This program provides classroom and laboratory instruction, clinical integration training, and a SAIT-arranged practicum experience in a medical laboratory and patient service center. This will allow you to refine and apply your competencies before entering the field as a professional.

You'll experience success in this program and profession by developing the following traits, skills and aptitudes:

  • fine motor skills
  • critical thinking and adaptability
  • effective communication skills (speaking, reading, writing, and listening)
  • ability to work independently
  • actively participate in classroom, lab, and practicum activities as scheduled by the program
  • ability to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and emotionally self-regulate
  • ability to use technology
  • attention to detail
  • can wear Personal Protective Equipment for extended periods and tolerate latex and disinfection chemicals
  • ability to work extended hours, including nights and/or weekends and shift work
  • ability to tolerate the sight of human blood and tissue
  • ability to assist in transporting, lifting, and positioning patients and/or equipment and meet the physical demands of the job (for example, using your hand, wrist, and arm for prolonged periods)
  • possess normal colour vision
  • ability to sit for long periods (three to four hours)
  • comfortable with performing patient care procedures which may be sensitive or performed in close proximity
  • ability to type at 30 wpm with high accuracy.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for Medical Laboratory Assistants and the governing body’s competency profile to understand the skills required to achieve all the competency-based objectives for the program and profession.

The opportunity to advance your education by transferring into this program or gain credit for previous postsecondary courses may be available.

There may also be opportunities to further your education by transferring to another institution once you graduate.

Learn more about program and institution transfer options.

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

The School of Health and Public Safety has many practicum partners in Alberta and Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited, and you may be required to travel or relocate outside the city.

Successful applicants will be assigned their practicum placement. While we'll strive to assign your practicum location based on your preference, it is not guaranteed. Special considerations will not be given. You will be responsible for fees associated with the practicum, such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, you will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:

  • Updated immunization records
  • Security clearance - Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check
  • N95 respiratory mask fitting
  • Health and wellness status

Learn more about practicum requirements

This program offers a Rural Health Zones (RHZ) stream. This stream is cohort-based and encompasses a blended delivery model. It is offered from May through October each year.

You'll acquire theoretical foundations through online scheduled learning 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 the timeframe as displayed in the program outline and that to apply for student loans, all students in this stream are considered part-time.

The Medical Laboratory Assistant program delivered by SAIT is accredited by Accreditation Canada. It is designed so that 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, graduates will receive a SAIT Medical Laboratory Assistant certificate.

Download program info

Careers and opportunities

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


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.

Services and workshops


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

The chain of infection and methods of prevention and control of microorganisms, including blood borne viruses such as hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will be reviewed. Immunization, routine practice, additional isolation precautions, sterilization and disinfection, safety and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) are also covered.


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.


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.


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


Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students 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.

Available Open Studies courses

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


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 out what educational documents are accepted 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.

Learn more

Available intakes

Winter 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Waitlisted
  • Application deadline: Oct. 31, 2023

Spring 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Open
  • Application deadline: Feb. 23, 2024 (Rural applicants only)

Fall 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Open
  • Application deadline: Feb. 2, 2024


2023/24 Tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023. They are an estimate of tuition and fees based on the recommended course load per year.

Domestic students

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 1.5* $4,621.50 $1,088 $5,709.50
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.

Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practicum, including pre-practicum requirements outlined by the program 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
  • safety glasses
  • comfortable closed-toe and heel shoes. They should also be water-impervious and slip-resistant.

Additional fees

  • CompTracker is an additional $55
  • Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) national exam fee is approximately $250.
  • CSMLS National Association dues for students are approximately $85. Refer to CSMLS.org 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 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.

Learn more
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 hps.info@sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. 

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

Prepare for a strong start and get the details you need to make a decision about your future. Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions, and provide information about:

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