Medical Laboratory Assistant

Medical laboratory assistants work directly with other health care providers and patients and in the exciting laboratory setting. You collect health information and medical specimens from patients, but you also enter clerical data, process specimens and assist with basic laboratory activities. It’s a job that requires good people and communication skills, a professional yet caring attitude and a commitment to teamwork and excellence, as well as attention to detail.

Medical lab assistants are in demand in many areas. Look for jobs in hospitals, community clinics, medical offices, research and pharmaceutical labs, veterinary clinics, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices and more.

International applicants are not currently considered for admission to this program.

Medical Laboratory Assistant is a nationally accredited 32-week certificate program offered at Saskatchewan Polytechnic Saskatoon campus . Some classes are also available through distance education. Labs and clinical experiences are a big part of the program, so expect hands-on training in:

  • anatomy and physiology
  • basic lab procedures
  • histology and cytology
  • infection control and safety
  • microbiology     
  • specimen collection and handling
You will participate in supervised clinical experiences, for a total of eight weeks of training. Your clinicals will give you practical experience in a specific area: histology, specimen management, phlebotomy and microbiology. These clinical experiences take place at various sites around the province.
You can transfer several Medical Laboratory Assistant courses into Saskatchewan Polytechnic Health Sciences diploma programs, including Combined Laboratory and X-Ray Technology, Cytotechnology, Medical Laboratory Technology and Medical Radiologic Technology.
Each year, 21 students are accepted to this program.

Students will experience a mix of traditional lectures, web-assisted learning, practical labs and clinical practicum. For this program, there is a heavy workload with 15 - 20 hours/week of homework. Classes are Monday - Friday with variable hours between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Clinical practicum hours will coincide with health care hours, and may include early morning start times (5 or 6 a.m.), evening, night, and weekend shifts.

Lectures and practical labs:
  • Saskatoon
Clinical practicum experiences:

  • Clinical practicum placement may occur at any approved site in Saskatchewan.
    • 8 weeks at various sites around Saskatchewan
    • Alternate sites will be required to meet program requirements.

Clinical practicum experiences are assigned by the Medical Diagnostics Committee on Practicum Placements (COPP). Students will have an opportunity to rank their preferred clinical sites. However, due to limited clinical placements in each location there is no guarantee that students will receive a clinical site assignment from their list of preferred sites. Students must be prepared to attend their assigned placement at any of the clinical sites in the province.

Not all clinical facilities are easily accessible by public transportation; students assigned to these sites must have access to personal transportation. Students are responsible for travel, accommodation arrangements and costs, to, during and from their clinical experience. Students will continue with their didactic studies through online learning while on their clinical experience, and stable internet access is required.

Enrolment in the program will require acceptance of a clinical placement anywhere within Saskatchewan. Clinical placements are determined during the program closer to the dates for practicum experiences.

Refer to our frequently asked questions to learn more about the program and career as a medical laboratory assistant.

Career and salary information

Your career

As a medical laboratory assistant, you could work in a hospital, community clinic, medical office, research lab, pharmaceutical lab, veterinary clinic, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices and more. Look for job opportunities with regional health districts, government health agencies, educational institutions and private labs.

Potential careers

Sample job title NOC classification
Laboratory assistant (multidisciplinary) Medical laboratory technicians & related technical occuations (33101)
Senior laboratory assistant Medical laboratory technicians & related technical occuations (33101)


Admission requirements

  • Minimum 25 net words per minute keyboarding speed with 90% accuracy (5-minute testing report to be submitted with transcripts)
    • Gross words per minute minus errors per minute indicates net words per minute.
    • Testing is available through Saskatchewan Polytechnic Testing Services. A completed Keyboarding Test Results Form must be submitted to Enrolment Services.
  • Grade 12 with a minimum grade of 70% in each of English Language Arts A30, English Language Arts B30, Foundations of Math 20 or Foundations of Math 30 or Pre-Calculus 30*, Health Science 20 or Biology 30*, and Physical Science 20 or Chemistry 30*
  • English Language Requirement (see Program-Specific ELP Requirements section)

*Previous Saskatchewan biology, chemistry, and mathematics requirements also accepted:

  • Biology 20
  • Chemistry 20
  • Math 20 or any 30-level math


  • Accepted applicants will be required to provide evidence of a Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search upon admission into the program. At the discretion of the practicum agency, you may be declined access to a clinical or work placement based on the contents of the Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search. The cost of the Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search is your responsibility.
  • Accepted applicants are required to provide current immunization records and meet Saskatchewan Polytechnic immunization requirements prior to entry into clinical practicum.
  • Accepted applicants are required to provide evidence of current N95 respirator mask testing prior to start of clinical practicums as directed by the program. N95 respirator mask testing is valid for two (2) years from the date of completion. Retesting may be required during your studies. The cost of N95 respirator mask testing is your responsibility.
  • Accepted applicants are required to provide evidence of 2015 WHMIS Globally Harmonized System (GHS) certification upon admission into the program. Recertification will be required every three years to remain current. The cost of WHMIS certification is your responsibility. Register for WHMIS.
  • Accepted applicants will be required to provide evidence of Transferring Lifting Repositioning (TLR®) Object Moving certification or Safe Moving and Repositioning Techniques (SMART®) certification upon admission to the program. TLR® or SMART® certification is valid for three (3) years from the date of completion. Recertification may be required during your studies. The cost of TLR® or SMART® certification is your responsibility. Register for TLR.

Alternative admission

Applicants who do not possess the academic qualifications for a program may be admitted if evidence of probable success can be established through an alternative admission assessment. Applicants are automatically considered for alternative admission. However, some specific admission requirements may still need to be met.


Refer to the ACCUPLACER© cut scores for this program below, and review additional details concerning Alternative Admission using Accuplacer.

  • 250 Arithmetic
  • 256 Reading
  • 250 Writing
  • 4 Writeplacer


Some programs allow applicants to meet the admission grade level requirement using 15 approved post-secondary credits. Review additional information.

If the program applied to has specific course requirements, they may be met through alternative post-secondary courses. Review already approved courses that may be used for admission purposes for your programs.

Admission method

First Qualified/First Admitted

The First Qualified/First Admitted (FQFA) process is used for the majority of Saskatchewan Polytechnic programs. When we determine that you meet the program's admission requirements, you will be offered admission based on the date you fully qualify for the program. The earlier you provide the appropriate documents and information that qualify you for admission to the next intake, the earlier you might begin your studies. Your application, once qualified, is always considered for the next intake. 

Applicants to programs with multiple intakes in an academic year remain in the application pool until the last intake for that academic year has begun. Programs using the FQFA process receive applications year round and maintain an application pool for each academic year. Qualified applicants who are not offered a seat must reapply for the next academic year. 

Sponsored programs or programs targeted to specific groups do not accept applications year round or maintain an application pool.

See Admission Processes for more information about this method of admission.

Tuition and fees

Estimates are based on current rates and are subject to change. Amounts for a program may vary by campus. Totals shown here include all mandatory fees as well as approximate cost for books and supplies. Visit the Tuition and Fees web page for a complete breakdown of tuition and fees for this program.

2023-24 academic year


Additional program costs that students are responsible for include:

  • Criminal Record Check with Vulnerable Sector Search
    • approx. $75
  • Immunizations
    • no cost if immunizations are completed with a Saskatchewan Polytechnic Health Nurse.
    • completed outside of Saskatchewan Polytechnic fees range from $90 to $120 for Hepatitis B series
  • Mask FIT Testing – two sizes
    • N95 - approx. $75 to $125
    • Mask Fit testing is recommended to be updated annually, however, it is mandatory to be updated every two years. If expiry date occurs during programming student must re-submit proof of testing to the program. Cost of re-testing is the student's responsibility. Students will be expected to bring the tablet with them on registration day.
  • WHMIS 2015 - Globally Harmonized System (GHS) certification
    • Approx. $35
  • Students will be required to purchase or routinely have access to a laptop or iPad for use at the start of their program. Students will be expected to bring it with them on registration day. Associated expenses are the students' responsibility.
    • Windows 11 or MacBook OS13 to o13+; iOS 11.0+ (iPad only) minimum 4 GB of Ram and Webcam required.
    • Note: Android and Chromebook are not compatible with the required systems.
  • Students will be required to purchase an iPad or tablet size device for use during their clinical practicum experience.  Associated expenses are the students' responsibility.
    • Most recent iOS version (apple), version 5.0 or greater (android), 8 GB minimum, stylus.
    • One of the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari (internet connection).
  • Students must routinely have access to a laptop or desktop computer for coursework.


Get credit for what you know

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Saskatchewan Polytechnic recognizes that adults learn in many different ways. This includes acquiring knowledge and skills through life and work experience or non-formal training.

Due to professional certification, licensing and/or regulation, some courses cannot be assessed through PLAR.

See the Candidate Guide below for this program’s PLAR offerings.

Transfer credit

Many Sask Polytech students benefit from transferring course credit. You may be eligible to transfer credit to Sask Polytech or to another college or university.

Student awards

Thanks to the generosity of donors and alumni, Saskatchewan Polytechnic gives away more than $2 million in student awards during the academic year.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic offers student awards for every certificate and diploma program at every campus. Not all student awards are based on marks - some are based on financial need or things like community or volunteer involvement.

More about scholarships


Accreditation Canada/EQual Canada has accorded the MLA program full accredited status for a 6 year term.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) program is an accredited program. Program content is based on the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science MLA competency profile, with topics added as appropriate for addressing local needs.

Graduates are eligible to write the national Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) certification exam. Certification is the accepted standard for many jobs - it also allows you to work anywhere in Canada.

The cost of CSMLS MLA national certification examination is the responsibility of the student. For more information, see the CSMLS website.

Combined Laboratory and X Ray Technology

Medical Laboratory Assistant

Medical Laboratory Technology


Additional information