Laboratory Assistant Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Laboratory Assistant Do?

A laboratory assistant, usually shortened to lab assistant, is a part of the team that maintains the operation of a laboratory. Lab assistants work under the supervision of scientists, lab technicians, or other senior staff. While they are commonly found in the medical field where they are sometimes called accessioners, any laboratory may have assistants working as part of its staff. Their responsibilities usually include receiving samples, verifying patient information, labeling specimens accurately, and entering records into the lab’s tracking system.

Beyond the technical work, lab assistants handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes tasks too. They might help manage supply orders, keep track of inventory, or ensure the lab follows health and safety standards. By keeping everything organized and maintaining a clean workspace, they help prevent contamination and provide accurate test results.

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Laboratory Assistant Responsibilities

Every laboratory will have its own set of duties but there are many common tasks and expectations that are usually found in most settings.

The below list represents the most common responsibilities for a lab assistant:

  • Receiving and logging samples: Accept patient samples and accurately record them in the lab’s tracking system.
  • Collecting blood samples: Lab assistants who double as phlebotomists draw blood samples from patients using proper techniques and safety protocols.
  • Labeling specimens: Confirm all specimens are correctly labeled with the necessary patient information.
  • Preparing samples for testing: Prepare and organize samples for analysis by technologists, following proper procedures.
  • Organizing lab supplies: Keep track of inventory and ensure that all necessary supplies are stocked and ready for use.
  • Data entry: Enter data accurately into laboratory information systems to maintain precise records of tests and results.
  • Communicating with healthcare professionals: Coordinate with doctors, nurses, and lab technologists to clarify sample requirements and resolve any issues.
  • Adhering to safety protocols: Follow all health and safety guidelines to maintain a safe laboratory environment and prevent contamination.
  • Handling patient interactions: Since many assistants interact with patients, they should be able to provide a comfortable and professional experience.

Laboratory Assistant Experience and Expertise

It’s helpful for candidates to have a mix of prior experience, technical abilities, and soft skills. Here’s what you should look for:

Prior experience

  • Medical or clinical settings: Working in hospitals, clinics, or doctor’s offices can provide practical knowledge of laboratory processes.
  • Laboratory internships: Internships offer hands-on experience with lab equipment and procedures.
  • Phlebotomy: Experience in drawing blood samples is valuable, especially for lab assistants who also perform phlebotomy duties.
  • Customer service: Jobs in customer service can provide communication skills and the ability to interact compassionately with patients.

Hard skills

  • Sample handling: Knowledge of proper techniques for collecting, labeling, and preparing specimens.
  • Data entry: Proficiency in entering and managing data within laboratory information systems.
  • Basic laboratory procedures: Understanding of standard lab practices and safety protocols.
  • Medical terminology: Familiarity with common medical terms used in a laboratory setting.

Soft skills

  • Attention to detail: Provides accuracy in labeling and documenting specimens.
  • Organization: Keeps the lab and workflow organized and efficient.
  • Communication: Helps in dealing with other healthcare professionals and patients.
  • Teamwork: Works well with other lab staff and healthcare providers.
  • Time management: Efficiently handles multiple tasks and prioritizes workload.
  • Problem-solving: Quickly addresses issues and finds solutions within the lab.

Laboratory Assistant Education

To become a lab assistant, it’s generally required to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but having some post-secondary education can be helpful. Many lab assistants complete certificate programs or associate degrees in fields like medical laboratory technology. These programs provide hands-on training and teach you about lab procedures, safety protocols, and basic medical terminology. In the medical field, if the assistant is going to be collecting specimens, they may need a phlebotomy certification as well. Some employers might even offer on-the-job training, so you can start working and learning at the same time. For those interested in advancing their career, additional coursework or certifications can open up more opportunities and potentially higher pay.

Laboratory Assistant Compensation

Lab assistant salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Laboratory Assistant is:


Determining the pay for a lab assistant involves a lot of variables. The average salary typically ranges from around $17 to $20 per hour, but this can vary based on the type of healthcare facility and its location. Hospitals and research labs might offer higher wages compared to doctors’ offices due to the complexity and volume of work. Additionally, the cost of living in different regions influences salary levels, with high cost cities often offering higher pay than rural ones. Other factors include experience, education, and certifications, as well as the specific duties and responsibilities on the lab team.

Sample Job Descriptions

When you begin your search for a lab assistant you need to have a strong foundation. A clean, concise job description is the best place to start. Below we have gathered some example descriptions from real world openings to help you on your way.

Job description for a hospital lab assistant

ABC Company is seeking a dedicated lab assistant to join our hospital laboratory team. We are looking for a detail-oriented individual to help manage and prepare samples for testing.


  • Receive and log patient samples accurately
  • Prepare specimens for testing, including labeling and documentation
  • Maintain cleanliness and organization of the laboratory
  • Assist with inventory management and ordering supplies
  • Comply with health and safety regulations

Required experience

  • 1-3 years of medical experience
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Certification as a Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) or equivalent
  • Basic understanding of medical terminology and laboratory procedures
  • Strong attention to detail and organizational skills

Preferred experience

  • Associate’s degree in a related field
  • Previous experience working in a hospital laboratory
  • Familiarity with electronic health records (EHR) systems
  • Ability to work flexible hours, including weekends

Job description for an outpaitent lab assistant

Our team at ABC Company is looking for a skilled lab assistant to join our outpatient laboratory team. The ideal candidate will assist in the processing and preparation of patient samples for analysis.


  • Perform venipuncture on patients and provide excellent patient service
  • Accurately receive, label, and process patient specimens
  • Perform routine laboratory tests under supervision
  • Keep detailed records of all lab activities and results
  • Maintain basic lab equipment and report any malfunctions to MLTs
  • Adhere to all office health and safety protocols

Minimum qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Certification in Phlebotomy
  • Proficiency in basic computer skills, including Excel
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Prior experience in an outpatient laboratory setting
  • Knowledge of laboratory information systems (LIS)

Job description for an entry level lab assistant

ABC Company needs a reliable Lab Assistant for our hospital laboratory. This is an excellent entry level role for someone to enter the medical industry.

Overview of the role

  • Collect specimens from patients following proper protocols and procedures
  • Log and prepare patient samples for testing
  • Maintain accurate records of samples and test results
  • Assist in the maintenance of lab equipment
  • Support the lab team in daily operations and special projects
  • Maintain health and safety standards while working in the lab
  • Prepare and organize laboratory supplies and equipment
  • Communicate effectively with healthcare professionals regarding sample processing
  • Perform routine quality control checks to maintain lab standards

Preferred qualifications

  • A.S. degree in a relevant field
  • Certification as an MLA, or phlebotomist preferred
  • Experience in a hospital or clinical laboratory environment
  • Familiarity with lab equipment and maintenance
  • Advanced coursework in biology or chemistry
  • Ability to work well in a team-oriented setting

Lab Assistant Interview Questions

  • Can you describe your experience with logging and preparing patient samples in a laboratory setting?
  • How do you confirm accuracy and attention to detail when labeling and documenting specimens?
  • What steps do you take to maintain and calibrate lab equipment?
  • Describe a time when you had to handle multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment. How did you manage it?
  • What steps do you take for health and safety regulations in the lab?
  • Can you give an example of how you have communicated effectively with healthcare professionals about sample processing?
  • What procedures do you follow to collect specimens from patients, and how do you provide patient comfort and safety during the process?

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