The medical field is expanding, with clinical laboratory technologists and technicians expected to see a rapid 5% job growth from 2022 to 2032. This growth makes it clear—certified medical laboratory assistants are more vital than ever to patient care. Medical laboratory assistants handle crucial tasks like patient sample collection and preparation. Beyond hospitals, their skills extend to various labs and research facilities. There are even options to specialize in fields like hematology or microbiology. To become a medical laboratory assistant, you must pass the Medical Laboratory Assistant Certification (CMLA) exam. This exam isn't suited for last-minute cramming—thorough preparation is critical to your success. Here's everything you need to know to prepare and excel in the CMLA exam on your first try.
The CMLA exam is a crucial assessment for those aiming to enter the field as Medical Laboratory Technology Assistants and Medical Laboratory Technicians. This exam tests the essential skills and knowledge necessary for you to succeed in the medical laboratory science field.
The exam is administered by American Medical Technologists (AMT), a respected authority in allied health certification since 1939.
Passing the CMLA is a significant step towards a professional career as part of a healthcare team. Most employers look for this certification as it demonstrates a candidate's proficiency and readiness to contribute in a laboratory setting.
There are a few ways to become a CMLA credential holder. Here's how you can get eligibility for examination:
Route 1: One way to qualify is to complete an AMT-approved CMLA training program and take the exam within five years of graduation. You must provide your academic transcripts as proof of program completion at registration.
Route 2: If you waited more than five years between completion of an approved program and the time you take the test, you must meet the requirements above plus:
Show six months of documented, full-time clinical laboratory experience within the last three years.
A minimum of 520 hours must have been devoted specifically to performing clinical laboratory duties.
Route 3: If you choose not to complete a clinical training program, you can qualify by completing a minimum of 1,040 hours (six months) of work experience within the past three years in which medical laboratory technology was the primary focus. Plus:
You must provide a copy of your High School Diploma or GED at registration.
You can check your eligibility using the AMT's eligibility checker.
The CMLA exam consists of 200 multiple-choice exam questions. These AMT-approved CMLA reference materials provide an overview of what exam topics you're expected to know. You can also check out the complete CMLA exam content outline.
Category of Examination
Number of Items
Percent of Exam
I. Laboratory Safety and Quality
II. Pre-examination (Preanalytical) Considerations
III. Examination (Analytical) Considerations
IV. Patient Test Management, Communications and Foundations
Section I: Laboratory Safety and Quality
Candidates are tested on their ability to maintain safety and quality standards in a lab environment, highlighting the importance of these practices in ensuring accurate and reliable test results.
This examination category requires understanding safety terminology like:
Standard and Universal Precautions
Quality assessment and control
Knowledge of quality control terms
Implementation of QC/QA procedures
Understanding regulations related to proficiency testing
Phlebotomy and specimen collection are crucial for ensuring accurate diagnostic results. Therefore, section two involves practical knowledge of preanalytical processes vital for laboratory work.
This exam category includes:
Understanding terminology related to phlebotomy
Differences between blood components
Proper specimen handling
Maintaining specimen integrity
This section assesses the ability to perform and understand various laboratory tests and analyses, which are crucial for accurate patient diagnosis and treatment.
You'll need to know about the following topics for this exam category:
The use and maintenance of instruments
Point-of-care testing practices
This section ensures that candidates have the interpersonal and professional skills to function effectively in a healthcare setting.
This exam category covers:
Professional aspects of laboratory work
Effective communication skills
The importance of patient rights
Handling critical values
Once you're confident you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for the CMLA exam. It usually takes 1-2 business days for the AMT to review your application.
Once you're approved, you'll receive an email allowing you to register for your exam appointment. The CMLA exam fee is $135 and is administered at Pearson Vue testing centers across the U.S.
After passing the exam, graduates enter a Provisional Certification phase, which lasts until they complete 120 hours of documented, approved clinical lab experience.
MedCerts' online CMLA preparation course thoroughly covers all essential topics for the exam, from lab safety to medical terminologies. This ensures you're well-prepared not just for the test but also for real-world lab scenarios.
Designed for your convenience, this online course allows you to learn at your own pace, making it perfect for balancing studies with other commitments. It's an ideal choice for those seeking a quality education with the flexibility of online learning.
MedCerts clinical training programs are officially recognized by AMT, ensuring they meet the high standards required for the CMLA certification examination. Enrolling in this course simplifies your path to certification.
To be eligible for the CMLA Exam, complete an AMT-approved CMLA training program and take the exam within five years of graduating. If it's been more than five years, you also need six months of full-time clinical laboratory experience within the last three years.
Alternatively, without completing a clinical laboratory training program, you can qualify with 1,040 hours of laboratory-focused work experience in the past three years, along with a High School Diploma or GED.
The exam covers laboratory safety, quality control, phlebotomy, clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, microbiology, urinalysis and legal/ethical aspects.
To pass the exam, you must achieve a scaled score of at least 70 within the given time limit. If a candidate does not pass, they must retake the entire exam. The fee for retaking the CMLA certification exam is set at $100.
Yes. There is a mandatory waiting period of 45 days before a candidate can attempt the exam again after a previous try.
The CMLA exam fee is $135.
With a CMLA certification, you can pursue careers such as:
Medical Lab Assistant: They play a crucial role in healthcare labs, handling specimen collection, preparation, transportation and conducting various tests on bodily fluids. Estimated salary ranges from $27,718 to $33,202.
Health Technician: This role typically involves working in medical labs, running tests and operating diagnostic equipment. The estimated salary range of $30,491 to $40,560.
Want to fast-track your way into a new career as a laboratory medical assistant? Dive into your CMLA preparation with MedCerts by registering for their online certified medical laboratory assistant course today. This program offers a thorough and focused approach to meet the CMLA exam requirements, setting you on the path to becoming a successful medical lab assistant.