The employment requirements for medical laboratory technologists (MLT) in Canada include:
- Completion of a 2-3 year college program in medical laboratory technology and a period of supervised practical training
- Registration with the provincial regulatory body or college of medical laboratory technologists in the region of work
- Certification by the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS).
The CSMLS is the national certifying body and professional association for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants. The CSMLS conducts exams for general medical laboratory technology, diagnostic cytology, clinical genetics and medical laboratory assistants.
It works in partnership with provincial regulatory bodies, does advocacy work and certifies people in the profession. Its certification is accepted across Canada and is required by the provinces and territories that do not have yet an individual regulatory body.
The CSMLS certifies the following disciplines:
- General Medical Laboratory Technologist
- Clinical Genetics
- Diagnostic Cytology and Medical Laboratory Assistant (voluntary certification).
Before You Move to Canada
There are steps that you can take before you immigrate to improve your chances of practicing as an MLT in Canada:
- Research the demand for MLTs at the national, provincial, and municipal levels to get a sense of the Canadian labour market.
- Contact the CSMLS and the provincial or territorial regulatory body (see links below) in the area where you intend to settle and work.
- Learn about the licensing process and the cost and time required.
- Identify what steps you can take before and after you move to Canada.
- Begin your Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) with the CSMLS The PLA evaluates your academic credentials, practical learning, professional development and work history to determine your equivalency to the national Canadian standards for MLTs. You can complete the assessment before you come to Canada, but you have to be in Canada to write the certification exams.
- Assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- Improve your language skills and enrol in language classes while in your home country and continue them after you move to Canada.
- Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country. When you contact the CSMLS or the regulatory colleges, find out what documents you need to bring for employment purposes or to continue your education. Verify if documents need to be translated. The CSMLS prefers that your college or university documents be in English or French.
- Subscribe to professional association newsletters to stay current on industry developments while still in your home country.
- Understand how the MLT profession is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with the procedures, laws, and legislation that govern the profession in the province where you’ll settle.
1. Understanding Medical Laboratory Technologist Job Requirements
MLTs play an essential role in today’s healthcare system. In fact, according to the CDC, 70% of medical decisions rely on laboratory test results. This explains why future job prospects are good all across Canada. However, before you move to Canada with hopes of continuing your MLT career, it’s wise to research the job requirements before you arrive.
Your careful research will help you to understand everything from the licensing process to the length of time and costs involved. Conducting research before you arrive in Canada can save you time, money, and energy. It may even help you to land a job in Canada with greater ease.
The MLT profession is regulated in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. This means that by law, you can only work as an MLT in these provinces if you have been issued a license by the provincial regulatory body. These bodies set the rules and regulations to enter into the MLT profession and issue licenses to those who meet the qualifications.
MLTs are not regulated in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Territories.
Start Your Research
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) code for MLTs is NOC 32120. The NOC provides a standard description of the job and is used by various groups. And for job seekers, it’s helpful to read the description to ensure that the MLT NOC best matches your job duties in your home country. Here, you’ll also find example job titles that MLTs also use in Canada. This can help you when you begin your job search.
NOC Code 32120 – Medical Laboratory Technologist
2. Employment for Medical Laboratory Technologists in Canada
The job outlook for MLTs is good because of national labour shortage conditions predicted until 2028. There are about 20,500 medical laboratory technologists that work in hospitals, public and private laboratories, university research facilities, and many other settings across Canada.
Credentials Recognition for MLTs in Canada
To be eligible for the CSMLS MLT certification exams, you need to complete an accredited educational program or a two-step prior learning assessment to evaluate your:
- Training, and
- Work experience.
You can complete the prior learning assessment process with the CSMLS before or after you arrive in Canada.
The exam is offered three times a year at various locations across Canada. You do not have to be a resident of Canada to take it, but you have to come to Canada to write it. After successfully completing the certification exam, contact the relevant provincial authority if you want to work in a province where the occupation is regulated.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you plan to enroll in a college or university program to upgrade your skills, contact the school that you plan to attend. Find out the steps you need to take to apply and what credential assessment agency they suggest you use. Some services that you may be able to use include:
To find other credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Make sure you highlight your international education and skills. Many employers value global experience. As well, build your existing knowledge and skills and explore university and college options thoroughly before deciding. Your international credentials and experience may help you to:
- Gain advanced standing
- Benefit from prior learning assessment options to gain credit or course exemptions.
- Transfer some of your credits, and
This will allow you to complete your program quickly and it may save you money if you don’t have to repeat courses.
Job Prospects for NOC 32120 – Medical Laboratory Technologists
Generally, job prospects in this occupation are very positive with the number of medical laboratory technologists and pathologists’ assistants expected to increase sharply in the coming years.
Most Canadian cities offer employment opportunities in the medical laboratory science sector, with both big cities and smaller communities having a need for MLTs. However, when looking for jobs, broaden your geographic area to include smaller cities and towns close to your target city. For example, if you intend to work in Toronto, you might find a job opportunity in nearby Hamilton, which is less than an hour’s drive from there.
Before deciding where you want to settle in Canada, research and find out the regions where the demand for your area of the profession is higher.
Major Employers for Medical Laboratory Technologists
Many hospitals and healthcare centres post job openings on their websites. As well, you will find a member-only job board on the CSMLS website.
You can visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers to check for immigrant-friendly organizations that you might be interested in. This special designation recognizes Canada’s best employers for recent immigrants. These employers offer interesting programs to help newcomers make the transition to a new workplace and a new life in Canada.
3. Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Medical Laboratory Technologist Job Requirements
Canadian employers place a high value on soft skills or personal attributes that enhance your interactions, job performance, and career prospects. Unlike your hard skills, you can apply your soft skills broadly.
As a medical laboratory technologist in Canada, you must have expert knowledge, know how to use documents, and have good hand-to-eye coordination. Soft skills, such as critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork are also important for medical laboratory technologists.
If your hard skills will get you an interview, most probably it is your soft skills that will get you the job and enable you to keep it afterward.
Though not a must, upgrading your education and skills through a bridging program or other education can be an important part of your journey.
Skills Upgrading for MLTs
You may have strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterward. You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially with regards to your communication skills and team dynamics.
Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English or French – is extremely important for your future in Canada. Whether you choose to focus on learning or improving English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you intend to live.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes through the school boards or settlement agencies. There are even language courses to teach you professional terminology, such as job-specific language training and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) in Ontario. And, if you already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, learning the other one is a good option, as it may offer you better employment opportunities.
Many immigrants take further education after coming to Canada. Some even want to change careers or enhance their careers with a Ph.D. or MBA. Click here for links to Canadian Universities and Colleges.
Bridging programs are a good way to transition your international experience and training to the Canadian workplace. Many colleges, universities and immigrant-serving agencies offer bridging programs or workshops. You may be eligible for one. Do some research to find a program that’s suitable for you.
This program is an intensive and comprehensive, 16-week course, in which participants gain simulated laboratory experience, intensive theory review, and thorough preparation to write the CSMLS certification exam. The simulated laboratory courses help MLTs obtain Canadian work experience. This comprehensive course also fulfills refresher course requirements from your Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).
4. Job Search Techniques for Medical Laboratory Technologists
The MLT occupation is on the list of the 24 eligible occupations for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. The job opportunities for this occupation are positive in Canada, however, the Canadian job market is very competitive, so be prepared and understand each of the steps needed to gain employment.
As well, finding a job in Canada may be very different than in your home country. So, you may need help finding jobs, updating your resume, writing cover letters, and preparing for interviews. Fortunately, many settlement agencies offer services for newcomers to help with job searching activities.
You must look for jobs in the region where you will settle. Therefore, take your time to research job requirements in that region and develop a plan for finding work. There are many ways through which you can search for MLT jobs.
- Broaden your search and include alternative careers and sectors.
- Seek out a mentor in the medical laboratory sector such as someone who has retired from the profession. They could give you valuable insights and advice and probably introduce you to their professional network.
- Join business-related job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
- Attend industry job fairs and regularly check relevant job boards.
Some colleges or associations may maintain a job bank or suggest a commercial job site.
Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Most settlement agencies and other immigrant-serving organizations offer help with finding job vacancies, updating your resume, writing cover letters, preparing for interviews and understanding what Canadian employers are looking for.
To find immigrant services in your area, click here.
You will be eligible to practice your profession when you have finished the MLT certification requirements. And when you’re certified, you can apply for a medical laboratory position at a hospital, lab, private clinic or, an independent diagnostic center.
Your chances of getting an interview depend on an impressive resume that stands out from other applicants. To do this, carefully read the job description and emphasize the experience that you have that the employer is seeking. This will give you a clear advantage over other applicants.
Tips for Writing a Laboratory Medical Technologist Resume:
In your objective or goal statement, state what you want to attain in your chosen medical career and how the position you’re applying for relates to your field of interest.
Detail your positive traits and other accomplishments that prove you’re a suitable candidate for the position. Use three to five bullet points to present your qualifications in a concise manner. Include your goals and how you can contribute to the success of the organization.
List the colleges or universities you’ve attended, your major or specialization and the year you completed the course. Include all other training such as bridging programs you joined or on-the-job training.
List all of your employers, from the latest or most recent employers. It’s preferable to list only the last ten years of employment. To make your medical technologist resume more presentable and easy to read, list the employer name first, then the position you held for that company or hospital, the dates of your employment, and highlight all your key duties and responsibilities for that position.
List your certifications and other documents that show your qualifications and expertise. An excellent example is a certified true copy of the results of your medical technology licensure examination in Canada. Other advanced medical technology training programs or bridging certificates are also credible sources.
Finally, carefully review, proofread and edit your resume. With a well-written resume, you have an added advantage over other applicants.
Interview Techniques for MLTs in Canada
A job interview can be daunting, but you can prepare yourself and be ready to impress your potential interviewer by thinking about the questions they will likely ask you and how you would answer them.
Here are a few questions that you might hear during a medical laboratory technologist interview:
What characteristics do you think medical laboratory technologists should have? By this question, your potential employer wants to ensure that you understand the basic requirements of the job and determine if you can fulfil them.
Lab work can be solitary but you may have situations where you’ll work in a team. Are you someone who can’t be interrupted when working or can you switch gears and be part of the team? With this question, your potential employer wants to know if you have a cooperative attitude, regardless of the work style you prefer.
By asking you what educational qualifications you hold, the employer wants to determine that you have the necessary skills to competently and safely carry out the job. If you will be working in a clinical lab you may be required in some provinces to be licensed by the provincial regulatory college.
Attention to Detail
How do you ensure you pay attention to detail when working? Your interviewer is looking for demonstrated experience in your answer. So give an example of a previous situation that has highlighted the importance of attention to detail. This helps your interviewer to understand your previous experiences.
Dealing with Change
Few jobs are entirely static and some lab-tech jobs are results-oriented and deadline-driven. Your interviewer in this case clearly needs to know that you are adaptable. Can you comfortably and quickly jump from one project to the next? Prepare a few examples that show your adaptability.
Types of Testing
Think about your previous job roles and study experiences. Mention the types of equipment you have used and what would you like to experience more of in the future.
Research the company to find out more about their work. Think about other questions they might ask, and prepare your answers. It’s vital to show how your skills match what the employer is looking for.
An informational interview is a brief (20 or 30-minute) meeting with someone who is currently working as an MLT. The primary goals are to learn more about working as an MLT and the industry in Canada. You should not try to get a job during an informational interview. Use the time to explore whether or not a particular position is a good fit for your professional skills and experience.
An informational interview with a contact from your network can be a great source of career information. In addition to gathering industry information you also gain insights based on another professional’s first-hand experiences and impressions.
Networking is a key activity that can help you get job leads and information about potential employers. It can also help you to meet others in your field and expand your professional network. And because many job vacancies are not advertised, you must make connections with practicing MLTs and others in your field.
Good places to network include conferences, associations, and industry get-togethers. These events are beneficial to meeting people, building relationships, and sharing information.
LinkedIn is another important professional tool for networking. It is a great resource to help you connect with former colleagues and employers, research companies, and get introduced to others in your field.
You can also join some related professional groups. But remember, that you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight and you need to be patient.
5. Medical Laboratory Technologist Associations in Canada
These associations provide information about licensure and certification and offer professional development, education and networking opportunities.
Provincial Regulatory Bodies
Newfoundland and Labrador
Professional immigrant networks are volunteer-run member-based associations or networks created by and for immigrant professionals that seek to:
- Create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities
- Help members find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals.
Some of the activities that you can participate in include networking events, mentoring, information sessions, and professional development opportunities.
Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (isans): helps newcomer professionals integrate into the province of Nova Scotia from a professional and social standpoint.
Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs – TRIEC)