Ontario Skills Passport
Layout structure
Header structure
Display Noc
OSP Occupational Profile

OSP Occupational Profile

Print Occupational Profile

Display page browsing back option list
Display page browsing back option list <<Back
Display Noc Details
NOC Code: NOC Code: 3212 Occupation: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Medical laboratory technicians conduct routine medical laboratory tests and set up, clean and maintain medical laboratory equipment. They are employed in medical laboratories in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, post-secondary educational institutions and government research laboratories. Pathologists' assistants assist at autopsies and examinations of surgical specimens or perform autopsies under a pathologist's supervision. They are usually employed in hospitals and universities. Medical laboratory technicians conduct routine medical laboratory tests and set up, clean and maintain medical laboratory equipment. They are employed in medical laboratories in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, post-secondary educational institutions and government research laboratories. Pathologists' assistants assist at autopsies and examinations of surgical specimens or perform autopsies under a pathologist's supervision. They are usually employed in hospitals and universities.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Reading 1 2 3
Writing Writing 1 2
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3
Digital Technology Digital Technology 1 2
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3
Money Math Money Math 1
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3

  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.

  • Read directions on laboratory product labels. For example, laboratory assistants may read handling, storage and disposal instructions on container labels. (1)
  • Read logbook entries. For example, read other technicians logbook entries about problems encountered when processing samples, tasks to be completed and follow-up calls to be made. (1)
  • Read text entries and comments on forms. For example, read instructions on test requisition forms. Review notes in patients' files about methods to use when drawing patients' blood samples. (2)
  • Read newsletters from your employer and from national and provincial professional associations. Read newsletters to learn about the organization's initiatives, activities and new services. Read newsletters from national and provincial organizations to find out about continuing education course offerings. (2)
  • Read memos. For example, read memos announcing the introduction of new diagnostic tests and changes to procedures for shipping specimen samples to outside testing facilities. Read memos outlining updates to procedures such as those for collecting samples from drug screen patients and for handling and disposing of 'sharps.' (2)
  • Read email from managers and co-workers. For example, receive email from managers about changes to computer codes, new suppliers and job postings. Read messages from computer technicians about scheduled network maintenance. (2)
  • Read procedure and equipment manuals. For example, read health and safety procedures to be followed when collecting and processing specimens. Read the organization's policies regarding patients' privacy and procedures to follow when requesting and releasing medical information. Read care and maintenance instructions and procedures for minor repairs in equipment manuals. (3)
  • Read health industry journals. For example, read the Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science to learn about trends in medical laboratory science, medical breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, refinements to diagnostic testing procedures and descriptions of new equipment and products. (3)
Back to Top

  • Write reminders, notes for co-workers and entries in logbooks. For example, write reminder notes about supplies to be ordered and telephone messages for co-workers. Enter short descriptions in logbooks about tasks to be completed by following shifts, problems encountered with equipment and errors in sample preparations. (1)
  • Write email to co-workers and managers on a variety of matters. For example, email co-workers requesting their availability for shift exchanges. Inform managers of inventory orders you have placed. (1)
  • Write brief comments in patients' files and on collection lists. For example, in patient files note difficulties in accessing patients' veins and recommend types and gauges of needles to use. Note reasons for inability to collect specimens such as missed attempts to access veins and patients' refusals on collection lists. (2)
  • Complete incident reports. For example, when accidents occur, write detailed narrative accounts of observations. Include details about the locations of incidents, injuries observed, actions taken and interactions with patients and witnesses. (2)
Back to Top

Document Use
  • Scan labels for specific data such as names, dates, sizes and types. For example, scan labels on products such as iodine and alcohol for expiration dates and lot numbers. Scan labels on specimen collection tubes and test packages to confirm patients' names and dates of birth. (1)
  • Locate data in lists and tables. For example, technicians working in hospitals read patients' specimen collection checklists. In clinics and laboratories, technicians verify packing lists of samples sent and received. They locate their work hours and duties on weekly and monthly calendars. (2)
  • Refer to assembly diagrams in manuals when maintaining and cleaning equipment such as gas chromatography and mass spectrometry units and spectrophotometers. (2)
  • Scan entry forms for data. For example, read requisition forms to determine types of tests ordered and locate special instructions. Identify patients' names and personal health care numbers, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, genders and ordering physicians' names and addresses. Scan quick reference sheets to remind yourself of test requirements such as specimen types, collection tube colours and specimen preparation requirements. (2)
  • Complete a variety of forms. For example, complete requisition forms when sending specimen samples to government laboratories for tests such as human immunodeficiency virus and venereal disease. Enter patients' personal information and referring physicians. Check boxes to provide data to testing agencies. Indicate the completion of equipment maintenance tasks by checking and initialling completed tasks on maintenance forms. Record hours worked, breaks taken and training attended on weekly timesheets. Medical laboratory technicians in hospitals initial completed specimen collection checklists and note any complications such as patients' refusals and missed attempts. Medical laboratory technicians at blood banks complete inventory-tracking forms by recording numbers and purposes of blood units used. They may enter cost centre data, purchase order numbers and item descriptions in office and laboratory supply order forms. (3)
Back to Top

Digital Technology
  • Access provincial and national professional association websites when searching for continuing education courses. (2)
  • Exchange email with co-workers and managers. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, enter patients' names, addresses, dates of birth and vital statistics, referring physicians' contact information, payment methods, special directions and tests required into medical records databases. Use entered data to create specimen collection labels. Access patients' names and health care numbers and print collection lists and instructions for preparing specimens for testing. Print summary reports indicating numbers and types of collections completed each day. (2)
Back to Top

Oral Communication
  • Greet and verify the identities of patients. For example, medical laboratory technicians greet patients and verify contact and health care information to ensure they are collecting the specimen from the correct patient. (1)
  • Discuss ongoing work with co-workers and managers. For example, discuss work assignments and schedules with managers. Discuss changes in policies and procedures, new and interesting medical developments and health concerns such as the potential for epidemics during staff meetings. Medical laboratory technicians in hospitals discuss ward assignments, floor coverage and backup plans for collecting missed attempt specimen samples with their co-workers. In clinics, they confirm pick-up and delivery times with couriers and ask information technology staff for assistance in resolving database malfunctions. (2)
  • Give instructions and provide reassurance to patients before, during and after specimen collection. Explain each step of collection procedures and comfort and reassure nervous patients. Technicians in hospitals may provide instructions for proper use of home test sampling kits and special collection procedures. Technicians in blood donor clinics give post-donation instructions to blood donors. (2)
  • Discuss your performance reviews, annual learning goals and incident reports with managers. For example, provide managers with details of incidents which may result in complaints that require the managers' intervention. (3)
  • Discuss sample collection and medical testing with co-workers, managers and colleagues. For example, discuss the technical details of specimen collection, labelling, storage and analysis with co-workers and managers. Receive directions for testing specimens from managers. Speak with nurses and physicians to clarify and request additional information on patients' test requisition forms. Give instructions to new trainees and answer their questions. For example, explain and demonstrate specimen collection and test preparation procedures, answer trainees' questions and provide feedback and support. (3)
Back to Top

Money Math
  • Receive cash payments and provide change to patients. For example, medical laboratory technicians in private clinics receive payment for tests not covered by medical health plans. (1)
Back to Top

Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Record and reconcile cash, debit and credit card payments received. For example, medical laboratory technicians in private clinics count the petty cash float each morning and reconcile receipts with money on hand at the end of each shift. (2)
Back to Top

Measurement and Calculation
  • Measure time and physical properties such as the volumes, sizes and weights of biological samples. For example, technicians in medical laboratories measure volumes of blood, urine, water and chemicals using graduated containers such as beakers and syringes. They weigh precise amounts of chemicals and dyes when preparing slides and testing samples. Blood bank technicians fill bags to specified weights. (1)
  • Measure various body and organ dimensions to complete autopsies or surgical dissections. For example, during autopsies pathology assistants may weigh the heart and lungs; measure the diameter of nodules; and measure the length, width and thickness of other organs. (2)
  • Calculate time intervals, total weights and quantities for mixtures. For example, distribute specified quantities of large specimen samples into secondary testing vials. Calculate volumes of patients' urine samples collected over twenty-four hour periods. Calculate quantities for batches of cleaning solutions. Phlebotomists record start and end times of each blood donation collection and calculate total lengths of time taken to draw donations. (2)
Back to Top

Data Analysis
  • Track inventory and order supplies when quantities are below established limits. For example, blood bank technicians manage inventories of donation bags used at blood donor clinics. They subtract numbers of donation bags used from original numbers supplied to them to determine reorder quantities. (1)
  • Compare counts and readings to established standards. For example, medical laboratory technicians in hospitals count numbers of specimen samples collected and compare them to numbers on ward collection lists to ensure that collections are complete. Technicians in medical laboratories review test results to locate readings that are outside the range values established for specific tests. They analyze the results of equipment calibration tests to ensure the equipment is operating correctly. (1)
  • Collect data and prepare operating statistics. For example, calculate numbers of samples received and procedures and tests carried out. Average numbers of patients seen hourly, weekly and monthly. Calculate average times taken to process specimens and conduct tests. (2)
Back to Top

Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate times needed for tests, procedures and appointments. Medical laboratory technicians in walk-in clinics estimate patients' wait times based on numbers of patients currently waiting and types and amounts of specimens to be collected. (2)
Back to Top

Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants are assigned duties such as reception, specimen collection and preparation of specimens by their managers. They plan their job tasks within these assigned duties. Their job task planning may be disrupted by couriers, equipment malfunctions and special rush order requests from physicians. Once these disruptions are handled, they return to their regular tasks. (2)
Back to Top

Decision Making
  • Choose tools and methods for collecting and handling biological samples such as blood, excretions and tissues. For example, phlebotomists select gauges of needles for drawing blood samples. They consider the sizes, locations and proximity of veins to the skins' surface to ensure samples will be quickly and efficiently drawn. They decide if adjustments are necessary to increase blood flow such as repositioning donors' arms and needle placements. (2)
  • Decide which procedures to follow when carrying out tasks. For example, during the course of autopsies, pathology assistants must decide which specimens to remove for further microscopic examination based on their observations and knowledge of the patient's clinical chart. There are standard procedures, but they often leave significant scope for interpretation. Lack of appropriate specimens may preclude accurate diagnoses of cause of death and reflect badly on the assistants' reputation for competence. (3)
Back to Top

Problem Solving
  • Face equipment failures and malfunctions that prevent you from collecting and processing samples. For example, technicians working in hospitals and private clinics may find that the software needed to print specimen collection labels is not working properly. They contact their information technology departments and handwrite patients' information on specimen labels until the software is repaired. (1)
  • You are unable to collect specimens and samples because patients will not cooperate. For example, phlebotomists may find that patients refuse to have blood samples drawn. They note this on collection lists and inform supervising nurses. (2)
  • You are unable to complete tests due to missing, insufficient and contaminated samples. For example, technicians in walk-in clinics find that urine samples collected by patients in their homes and brought to the clinic are contaminated. They contact the referring physicians and request that the patients return to have new samples collected at the clinic. (2)
Back to Top

Finding Information
  • Find information about laboratory tests and procedures. Ask co-workers and managers for clarification of protocols and testing procedures. Search databases, company memos and policy and procedures manuals for additional information. (2)
Back to Top

Critical Thinking
  • Judge the suitability of biological samples for testing and analysis. Consider the types of tests requested, the available specimen sample amounts and the conditions under which samples were collected. Cytology technicians judge the suitability of tissue samples by examining their sizes, shapes, colours and textures. (3)
Back to Top