Studying SLT or MLS is a matter of Choice based on the understanding of an individual and the future plan.
In the short presentation, we will be looking at the benefit of SLT over MLS and the reason for considering studying SLT especially in a highly competitive labour market like Nigeria.
Firstly, it should be noted that no one professional course supersedes the other in the labour market be it Civil Engineering; Architectural Technology; Building Technology; Quantity Surveying; Engineering; Accountancy, Nursing, MLS, SLT among others.
To set the record straight professional course is a program of study designed to provide individuals with the skills and knowledge required to work in a specific profession or industry. Professional courses are typically more focused and practical oriented than traditional academic programs, and they aim to prepare students for the workforce by providing training in the specific skills, tools, and techniques needed to excel in a particular field. Examples of professional courses include accounting, law, medicine, engineering, SLT, MLS and project management. These courses are typically offered by universities, vocational schools, and professional associations, and they may include classroom instruction, hands-on training, and real-world experience through internships or apprenticeships.
Completion of a professional course may lead to professional certification or licensure, which is often required in order to practice in certain fields. SLT as a professional course requires licensure and professional certification for individual to practice.
Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) and Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) are two different fields, although they may share some similarities in terms of laboratory practices and equipment.
Science Laboratory Technology involves the application of scientific principles and techniques to investigate and solve problems in different scientific fields, which is not limited to just physics, chemistry, and biology. SLT professionals work in a variety of settings, such as Analytical/research laboratories, food processing plants, quality control laboratories, Health facilities and environmental testing facilities. They may perform tasks such as sample collection, analysis, and interpretation of data. The SLT is regulated in Nigeria by Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology with an enabling ACT of parliament 12, 2003 with the main mandate to advance SLT profession in Nigeria
On the other hand, the MLS is regulated in Nigeria by Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) with the enabling ACT as amended of the parliament 11, 2003 with the mandate to regulate the practice of Medical Laboratory Science. Medical Laboratory Science is a specific branch of laboratory science that focuses on the analysis of human biological samples, such as blood, urine, and tissue samples. MLS professionals are responsible for performing Medical laboratory tests that aid in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. They work in clinical laboratories in hospitals, medical research centers, and diagnostic laboratories. It is not appropriate to say that MLS has advantages over SLT, as they are different fields that serve different purposes. However, there are some benefits of pursuing a career in Science Laboratory Technology that may appeal to individuals over Medical Laboratory Science. Here are some potential advantages of SLT:
- Opportunities for research: SLT professionals may have more opportunities to conduct research and contribute to scientific advancements. Many SLT professionals work in research laboratories and are involved in developing new products, improving existing processes, and discovering new knowledge.
- Flexibility: SLT professionals may have more flexibility in terms of working hours, work location, and job responsibilities. Many SLT professionals work in contract/Consultancy positions, which allows them to work on short-term projects or work on a part-time basis. Additionally, SLT professionals may work in various settings, including laboratories, manufacturing plants, and field sites.
- Diverse career options: Science Laboratory Technology offers a broad range of career opportunities in various fields, such as environmental science, Chemical Science, Radiation Science, food science, Health and forensic science, among others. The diversity can be appealing to individuals who want to explore different career paths within the laboratory sciences. In accordance with the National University Commission (NUC) the Universities regulatory body in Nigeria, prospective candidates can specialize in the following SLT options (NUC, CCMAS, 2022): Biology Technology, Biochemistry Technology, Chemistry Technology, Chemical/Petroleum Technology, Geology/Mining Technology, Medical Microbiology, Microbiology/Biotechnology, Physics/Electronics Technology, Physiology/Pharmacology Technology which is a 5-year Programme. Other area where SLT covers including Science laboratory designs, Instrumentation; Laboratory facility designs and Construction; Laboratory Management system; Laboratory Marketing strategies; Laboratory Chemical, Reagent and Equipment sales and services; Laboratory Regulations and Laws; Laboratory Hazard, Safety and Accident among others. The SLT ND holders are designated as Laboratory Technician; the HND SLT holders are designated as Laboratory Technologists while the B.Sc/B.Tech SLT Degree holders are designated as Laboratory Scientist.
A graduate of SLT can therefore work in almost every sector of the national economy which include; Ceramics Production; Communications; Computing; Cosmetics Industries; Drugs And Pharmaceuticals; Energy and Power; Educational Institutions/Research Institutes; Support Science Teachers; Lecturing; Researchers and Students In Laboratory Research/Projects; Environmental Control and Health Protection; Environmental Impact Assessment Agencies and Fertilizer; Field Maintenance And Repair; Food and Beverages Production Industries. The SLT graduates can also be Involved In Quality Control/Assurance of Food Product; Food and Drug Administration Agencies; Industrial And Quality Controls; Iron, Metal and Steel; Medicine; Molecular Laboratories; Oil And Gas; Paints and Vanishes; Paper And Ink; Petrochemical Industries; Pharmaceutical Companies; Plastics; Power And Steal; Product Testing; Forensic Science Institutions; Security (Police, Navy Army and Other
Paramilitary; Semi-Conductor Fabrication, and Instrumentation; Soil Testing; Sugar, Textile; Health and Radiation science; Troubleshooting of Circuits and Systems; Vegetable Oil, Soap And Detergents; Waste Management; Water Industry among other
It's important to note that there are many advantages of pursuing a career in Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) over (MLS). Although, both fields are essential and provide valuable contributions to scientific knowledge and advancements. Science Laboratory Technology is a broader field that covers various scientific disciplines.
Peter Adefisoye OLUWAFISOYE is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT)
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