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. A medical laboratory assistant must be accurate, self-motivated, and dependable with a skilled eye for detail and strong client service skills.
The Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) fast-paced program trains students to collect, process, and prepare patient specimens, enter data, perform clerical and reception services, perform electrocardiograms and urinalyses and carry out basic laboratory procedures.
The first semester of the MLA program consists of classroom instruction and clinical integration which prepares students for the clinical practicum and professional job duties. The second semester involves theory on professional practice and a six-week clinical practicum arranged by SAIT which is spent in a laboratory and patient service center. The practicum provides students with opportunities to refine and apply competencies acquired at SAIT.
The program has many clinical partners located within Alberta and across Canada. Clinical placements in Calgary are limited and students must be prepared to relocate outside of Calgary for the six-week practicum. Successful candidates will be informed of the allocation of their placement by the program. There is no guarantee that students will be placed at their desired practicum location. Special considerations of personal circumstances will not be given in regard to assigning practicum placements. Students will be responsible for fees associated with their practicum such as relocation and travel costs.
Graduates find work as medical laboratory assistants in community collection sites, hospital rapid-response laboratories, high-volume medical laboratories and private insurance or home care companies. The employment requires flexibility (shift-work), good health and manual dexterity. Medical laboratory assistants work in laboratory environments where they may spend a considerable amount of time standing or sitting and performing tasks that may be repetitive. They must observe safety precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to infectious body fluids and dangerous chemicals. Graduates are often hired into casual positions initially which usually progress to full-time positions within one year of hire. In order to find employment, many graduates must relocate across Alberta and potentially even throughout Canada.
- Graduates of the Medical Laboratory Assistant program have a 95% employment rate.
- Students with higher secondary or post-secondary marks usually experience greater success in SAIT programs.
- In order to be successful in this program, applicants must have basic computer literacy. An acceptable computer skill level would include the ability to use word processing and communication software. Educational interaction in this program depends on these basic computer skills and medical laboratory assistants work with laboratory and hospital information systems. It is the student's responsibility to ensure the adequacy of these skills prior to program admission.
- A keyboarding/data entry speed of 30 words per minute (wpm) net or better is required. Applicants will be required to complete a program-specific keyboarding assessment (available at SAIT for a minimal fee) prior to admission to the program. This is also a requirement for employment after graduation.
- Students who experience success in this program have the following characteristics:
- the ability to follow instructions, pay close attention to detail and take precise readings
- the ability to work quickly and accurately
- good finger and manual dexterity to handle specimens and small laboratory equipment
- normal colour vision
- good communication and problem-solving skills
- good organizational skills
- the interpersonal skills and effective communication skills in English required to work well with co-workers and the public.
- Medical laboratory assistants enjoy working with people, like direct contact with patients and do not mind shift work.
Credentials and accreditation
After successfully completing this program, graduates will receive a SAIT Medical Laboratory Assistant certificate.
All graduates are eligible for registration and membership with the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS). Obtaining national certification as a medical laboratory assistant will allow for opportunities to work across Canada.
The Medical Laboratory Assistant program delivered by SAIT is accredited by Accreditation Canada, and is designed so that graduates achieve clinical competence as defined by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS). As an accredited institute, graduates of the Medical Laboratory Assistant program at SAIT are eligible to challenge the CSMLS certification exam.
The opportunity to advance your education through transfer to, within or from SAIT is available with the following universities and colleges:
To learn more, visit transfer options.
Have questions about this specific program?
Contact the School of Health and Public Safety
- Fall 2020 start: applications are accepted Oct. 2, 2019, to Aug. 15, 2020.
- Winter 2021 start: applications are accepted March 30, 2020
Completion of the following courses or equivalents:
- at least 60% in Math 20-2 or Pure Math 10, 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
- all applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.
SAIT evaluates international documents for admissions. After you've applied, consider our international document assessment service if your education is from outside of Canada.
Fall 2020 competitive entry: seven-step process
Step 1: Read the program information to see the qualities needed for student success.
Step 2: Ensure that you meet all of the admission requirements listed above.
Step 3: Review the selection of information to understand the process and deadlines
- Applications and proof of the admission requirements (transcripts and/or anticipated final grades) along with all supporting documents must be submitted to be included in the selection.
- Applicants will have one attempt to complete the selection process for this program. If you're not offered admission, you can re-apply for the next intake and you will be required to complete the selection process again.
- The first round of selection will start in October. Applications will be reviewed daily by the Office of the Registrar and selection is performed on a weekly basis by the program.
- Applicants who apply after the program has been filled will be placed on a waitlist and may be invited to complete the selection process if a seat becomes available.
- The School of Health and Public Safetywill forward a selection package to those that meet the admission requirements.
In the selection process, applicants will be ranked according to the composite score of the following criteria:
- Academic Achievement — course average: 50%
- Customer service, communication and teamwork skills short answer questions: 50%
- Applicants with a composite score of 50% or below will be declined.
Step 5: Log in to mySAIT.ca to check your admission status. If eligible, your status will indicate that you're "In Selection."
Step 6: Once you're in the selection, email@example.com will send you a link to the selection package, which you'll complete in an online format.
- Selection package for reference only.
Failure to meet anticipated final grades will result in offers being rescinded.
Communication during selection
Email is the primary source of communication during the selection process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications.
We recommend you add firstname.lastname@example.org and the sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. Please check your junk mail or trash folders for communication from SAIT. The program does not follow-up on selection packages which are not returned.
The School of Health and Public Safety has many practica partners located in Alberta and across Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited and students may be required to relocate outside of Calgary for practicum.
Successful candidates will be informed of the allocation of their practicum placement by the program. There is no guarantee that students will be placed at their desired practicum location. Special considerations of personal circumstances will not be given in regards to assigning practicum placements. Students will be responsible for fees associated with practica such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.
In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, successful candidates 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
- View additional Medical Laboratory Assistant program information including course-specific descriptions and requisites.
This program is a 21-week certificate offered over the fall/winter semesters or the winter/spring semesters
|Course code||Course name||Credit|
|INFC-215*||Infection Prevention and Control||1.5|
|MEDL-200||Clinical Laboratory Foundations||3.0|
|MEDL-203||Clinical Laboratory Testing||3.0|
|PROF-201||Professional Practice I||3.0|
|Semester 1 total||15.0|
|Course code||Course name||Credit|
|Semester 2 total||4.5|
*Available by correspondence and/or online learning. The courses must be completed within the time frame shown in the program outline. Please contact the Academic Chair prior to enrolling in any online or correspondence courses.
Please be advised that full-time student status requires students to take 60% of a full course load per semester. Depending on the number of courses com pleted by correspondence, a student may be considered a part-time student, which may impact his/her financial loan status and ability to qualify for certain scholarships, bursaries and awards.
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.
Tuition and fees per year*
Domestic Tuition and Fees*
|Year||Tuition fees||SAIT fees||Saitsa fees||Health & Dental Plan||2020/21 total|
International Tuition and Fees*
|Year||Tuition fees||SAIT fees||Saitsa fees||Health & Dental Plan||2020/21 total|
*Fees and tuition are based on a two-semester full course load structure. There may be additional fees for practicums and terms held outside this time frame.
Campus athletic and recreation Fee: $171.20
Universal transit pass (UPass): $310 - Check eligibility here.
Student support fee: $100
Student technology fee: $100
Health and Dental Fees
- Health Plan: $122
- Dental Plan: $130
- For students with existing health and/or dental plans, please refer to the Saitsa website for information on opting out.
- Health and Dental Plan: $344
- For more information on Health and Dental Benefits for International students please contact the International Centre.
Books and supplies*
- Books and supplies are approximately $700.
- Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practica (i.e. relocation costs if placed outside of Calgary, food, housing, transportation, etc.)
- Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) national exam fee is approximately $250
- CSMLS national association dues for students are approximately $85.
- There is a fee associated with obtaining a Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check, payable to the Police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
- Students must have their immunizations reviewed by the SAIT Health Clinic. There is a $75 charge to review vaccine and medical history. Any vaccines to be administered will result in additional charges.
Find out about tuition and financial aid.
* Tuition, fees, books and supply costs are subject to change.
Next steps for incoming students
Have you been accepted to this program? Here's what you'll need for your first day of classes.
Important dates and deadlines
Find important dates applicable to all students, including your transcript and tuition payment deadlines on our Important Dates page.
✅ Plan ahead ❗️
You are required to complete several health, confidentiality and consent forms before starting your program. All completed and signed paperwork is needed on orientation day.
Ensure you complete all three steps below ahead of orientation.
Wednesday, Sept. 2
This program will be delivered in a blended format for the Fall 2020 term due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated health and safety guidelines. The majority of courses will take place online, with certain labs and hands-on learning scheduled on campus.
How to register for classes
You'll follow a fixed block registration process to enrol in your classes. Learn how to register on our registration and schedules page.
Computers and laptops
This is a bring your own device program with a standard hardware and software requirement. See the specific requirements on our computers and laptops page.
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 prior to 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.
- N95 respiratory mask fit-testing
- Police Information Clearance with Vulnerable Sector Check
- Immunization record
- Health and Wellness Status
To support your success, SAIT offers some short courses before classes start, including PREP 100: The SAIT Experience, ETHI 110: SAIT Ethical Practices and SAFE 165: Safety at SAIT
The Fall 2020 booklist will be available about two weeks before classes start. We recommend you wait to buy your books until your first few days of classes and speak with your instructors.
Kimberly Wheelans, Academic Chair
For Fatme, the benefits that came from the applied learning were not just knowledge and skills that would transfer directly to her career, but also confidence.
"I loved having that experience with the patients."