Biomedical Science Certification Eligibility, Testing & Renewals - AMT (MDT), ASBMB
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The majority of treatments available for illnesses and diseases are thanks to the research conducted by biomedical scientists. Utilizing the scientific method and years of education, these curious researchers devise experiments to learn more about tissues, pathogens, viruses, and other biological agents. The results of these tests inform medical practitioners on new best practices, techniques, or treatments for diseases that still need a cure.
Certification is not required to work as a biomedical scientist, but it can be helpful when seeking employment or looking to advance within a company. The two most commonly earned certifications are the Molecular Diagnostics Technologist (MDT) certification through American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) certification. Both certifications require at least a bachelor’s degree.
The MDT certification guarantees that the holder is proficient in molecular biology and that they understand general lab procedures and molecular diagnostic theory. Holding this certification can boost job application and informs employers that the applicant has continued to learn about this field because of continuing education requirements. The AMT has been certifying allied health professionals for over 80 years and is a standard in the industry.
The ASBMB certification is awarded to graduates of an ASBMB-accredited program, who demonstrate proficiency in biochemistry and molecular biology by passing an exam. The ASBMB also offers membership to professionals in the field. With over 11,000 members in the industry and more than 100 years of operation, this certification is highly regarded.
Continue reading to learn more about how to earn these certifications, as well as education requirements and state licensure for biomedical scientists.
Early Preparation in High School to Become a Biomedical Scientist
Completing high school (or earning an equivalency certificate such as a GED) is the first step towards becoming a biomedical scientist. Students who wish to pursue this career should develop good study habits and focus on classes such as biology, chemistry, math, physics, and engineering.
Admissions to quality biomedical bachelor’s degree programs can be competitive so students should maintain a GPA above 3.0, earn high SAT or ACT test scores, and secure quality letters of recommendation. Students should also seek out volunteer opportunities in labs as this can provide valuable hands-on experience prior to college.
Biomedical Scientist Certification Eligibility
Biomedical scientists pursuing either a Molecular Diagnostics Technologist (MDT) certification through American Medical Technologists (AMT) or the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) certification must complete a bachelors’ degree. Coursework and major requirements vary based on the certification.
It should be noted that most biomedical scientists earn at least a master’s degree, if not a PhD or MD. While these certificates do not require candidates to have an advanced degree, earning one can be advantageous to employment and advancement.
Molecular Diagnostics Technologist (MDT) Eligibility
There are four education and work experience routes to be eligible for MDT certification:
- Medical Technologist (MT) Certification – Have an MT certification, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or national accreditation agency, and have six months of documented, relevant, approved laboratory experience in the past five years.
- Molecular Science Program – Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or national accreditation agency. This program must include at least 30 semester (or 45 quarter) credits of biological science, chemistry, mathematics, and/or medical science courses. Applicants must also have completed a diagnostic molecular science program within the past five years.
- Laboratory Science Education – Have a bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry from a regionally accredited institution or national accreditation agency. International applicants may complete a program that includes at least 30 semester (or 45 quarter credits) of biology, chemistry, and/or medical science courses, as well as at least one year of molecular science experience within the past five years.
- Advanced Science Degree – Have a graduate degree in chemistry, biology, immunology, microbiology, allied health, clinical laboratory sciences, or related field from a regionally accredited institution or national accreditation agency. International applicants must also have six months of molecular science experience in the past five years.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Certification Eligibility
In order to be eligible for ASBMB certification, candidates must complete an ASBMB-accredited bachelor’s degree (or higher). There are 90 accredited programs across the country and each one meets stringent coursework and lab education requirements.
Biomedical Science Certification Exam Preparation & Renewals
Molecular Diagnostics Technologist (MDT) Exam Preparation & Renewal
Candidates for MDT certification must first apply for authorization to take the exam. This application process costs $200 for domestic applicants and $220 for international applicants. It can take one to two weeks to process the application.
Candidates taking the exam at their school will be notified by their instructor on the time and date of the exam. Candidates taking the exam outside their school will schedule their own exam at one of the hundreds of Pearson VUE testing center locations across the country.
To prepare for this exam, candidates should review the Information Resource References provided by the AMT. Books to study prior to taking this exam include:
- “Molecular Biology of the Cell” by Alberts, B., Johnson, A. D., Lewis, J., Morgan, D., Raff, M., Roberts, K., et al.
- “Molecular Diagnostics: Fundamentals, Methods, and Clinical Applications” by Buckingham, L.
- “Molecular Pathology: The Molecular Basis of Human Disease” by Coleman, W. B. & Tsongalis, G. J.
- “Diagnostic Molecular Pathology: A Guide to Applied Molecular Testing” by Coleman, W. B. & Tsongalis, G. J.
- “Molecular Diagnostics” by Patrinos, G. P., Ansorge, W., & Danielson, P. B.
- “Principles and Applications of Molecular Diagnostics” by Rifai, N., Horvath, A. R., Wittwer, C. T., & Park, J.
- Human Molecular Genetics by Strachan, T. & Read, A. P.
AMT warns candidates that this list is not comprehensive and that they should seek out other resources in addition to those listed. Candidates should also ensure that the books they are using to study are the most recent editions as the field of biomedical science is constantly evolving.
Topics covered in the MDT exam include:
- General laboratory topics, including lab safety, HIPAA compliance, reagents, quality assurance, dilutions, and policies and procedures.
- General molecular diagnostics theory, including DNA/RNA, proteins and protein expression, basic genetics, endonucleases and exonucleases, infectious diseases, pharmacogenomics, and oncology.
- Molecular laboratory procedures, including how to evaluate contamination, how to distinguish between molecular and biological agents, having knowledge of workflow, evaluating quality control, understanding regulatory requirements, demonstrating skill with the use of a pipette, and being able to explain DNA and RNA extraction procedures
- Diagnostic methods, including how to evaluate assays, explain how to properly reconstitute reagents, understand the controls for each test, and know cutoffs for positives and negatives, as well as in-depth knowledge of the polymerase chain reaction, assays, sequencing, electrophoresis, and DNA/RNA extraction. This section comprises over 50 percent of the exam.
This exam content list is not exhaustive so applicants should ensure they visit the AMT website and familiarize themselves with the finer details.
Renewals: In order to keep an MDT certification current, certificate holders must pay an annual fee of $95 and complete 36 CCP points every three years.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Certification Exam Preparation & Renewal
The ASBMB certification exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge of the core concepts of biochemistry and molecular biology. Only students who are currently enrolled in an ASBMB-accredited program may take this exam. Candidates may take the exam in their junior or senior year; however, students should ensure they are well prepared as this exam can only be taken once. This exam is only 60 minutes long and is offered during a two week period every March. The fee to take the exam is $40.
This exam comprises 12 to 14 questions where candidates are required to write their responses. Sample questions from past years are available on the ASBMB website to help candidates prepare. The four content areas covered are:
- How energy is required by and transformed in biological systems
- How a macromolecular structure determines function and regulation
- How information storage and flow are dynamic and interactive
- How discovery requires objective measurement, quantitative analysis, and clear communication
Students who take this exam should know:
- The theory of evolution and natural selection
- How matter and energy transform and behave
- Homeostasis and the need for biological balance
- The genome, how information is encoded, and how it is transmitted
- The scientific method
Since the exam questions are open-ended, each exam must be scored by an evaluator. Evaluators are given training on how to score each exam to ensure uniformity in scores. Each exam is reviewed by several evaluators before a final score is assigned.
Renewals: ASBMB certifications do not need to be renewed.
State Licensure for Biomedical Scientists
Biomedical scientists are not required to be licensed in most states. Currently, there are 11 states that require laboratory personnel to be licensed, although it is unclear if biomedical scientists fall under this category. Professionals in this field should contact their local state licensing board to ensure they have all the necessary credentials to work.