Medical Laboratory Science Versus Science Laboratory Technology: An Overview

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Medical Laboratory Science and Science Laboratory Technology are two different courses available in higher institutions of learning but Students, Parents and Guardians are mostly confused on the difference between the two.

Many Students of science especially those seeking admission to higher institutions do not know the difference between these two professional courses. This article aims to educate young school leavers, students, undergraduate, about the differences between Medical Laboratory Science and Science Laboratory Technology.

What is Science Laboratory Technology?

The course Science Laboratory Technology is an umbrella that needs illumination. Many people don’t understand what the course is really all about, even students that apply for it don’t really understand what is ahead of them so they become surprise at what they see when they get to class.

  • Science Laboratory Technology Program provides students with the necessary skills and techniques for standard, everyday science laboratory work in research industries, institutions, pharmaceutical and chemical, biological companies etc.
  • Science Laboratory Technology Program as a course focuses on the fundamental principles of the biological and physical sciences and emphasizes analytical laboratory techniques and applications, specifically in the realms of chemistry and biology.
  • The curriculum enables student to explore a variety of laboratory testing techniques and to prepare and operate various types of tools and electronic analysis equipment.
  • The Program also prepares graduates for employment in chemical, biological, and associated science laboratories.
  • Opportunities in the field of Science Laboratory Technology includes: chemical, biology, agricultural and food science, environmental science and prevention, forensic, water quality, industries, electrical and electronics, forest and conservation, geological, and energy technology. This program focuses on chemical and biological concentrations with laboratory experiences that covers a variety of applications in biological, biochemical, chemical, water, environmental, forensic, petrochemical, and agricultural science areas.

What is Medical Laboratory Science?

Medical Laboratory Science is an umbrella of the health profession that provides basic and professional laboratory information and services needed for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Many students, Parents and undergraduates often confused Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) to be Science Laboratory Technology (SLT). These two courses are entirely different. Now let’s take a look at the differences.

The Difference between the two courses

  • Medical Laboratory Science is a medical science course studied in University or college of Health Sciences only. In the university, it is studied in the college of Medicine under the Faculty of Health Sciences. Medical Laboratory Assistant and Technicians are trained in the College of Health Technology while Medical Laboratory Scientists are trained in the universities
  • Whereas, Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) is studied in the Faculty of Biological or Natural Science in the universities and under the school or college of sciences/technology in the Polytechnics and graduates of Science Laboratory Technology from the Polytechnic in the National Diploma level are called Laboratory Technicians and the Higher National Diploma are refer to as Technologist while their counter part from the universities is called Laboratory Technologist/Scientist.
  • Graduates of Medical Laboratory Science are called Laboratory Scientist and can take up job in teaching and specialist hospital, primary health centers, research and private health centers, private establishments and quality control or reference laboratories, public health laboratories, forensic and law enforcement laboratories. Their graduates can be self employed by establishing their own diagnostic/research laboratories.
  • While graduates of Science Laboratory Technology can work in environmental health institution where they may involve in food analysis to protect public health or water industry where they can be involved in water analysis. They can work in secondary schools and tertiary institutions as science teachers or help in biology or chemistry laboratories as technologists. They can also establish research laboratories for food and water analysis for public health protection.

None of the Medical Laboratory Science Professionals are trained in the Polytechnics as many Polytechnic students and graduates of Science Laboratory Technology claim to belong to the Medical Laboratory Science Profession as one can only mistake them to be the same if one does not belong to medical/health profession or has not been admitted to study any of the course.

Final Thoughts on Medical Laboratory Science and Science Laboratory Technology

The basic differences between the two courses will no doubt help students and parents or guardians in making career choice.
Both Program have professional bodies. For the Science Laboratory Technologist, there is the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT). While for the Medical Laboratory Science, there is Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN).


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