Microbiology & Molecular Biology Certifications - M, MB (ASCP) (2023)

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The answers to the large-scale problems plaguing the planet often can be found in miniature details. By posing research questions, doing experiments, and forming conclusions, scientists are able to advance human knowledge and provide insight into how we as people can live healthier and happier lives.

Scientists who study life science on a small specific scale include microbiologists and molecular biologists. Microbiologists deal in microscopic organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, while molecular biologists primarily investigate biochemical processes in the cells of plants, animals, people, and living organisms. Although both scientific fields study biology on small-scale, microbiology studies organisms whereas molecular biology studies biological interactions at the molecular level. These two career pathways are proving to be crucial in advancements in the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, among others.

Microbiology career pathways are somewhat varied; however entry-level careers in microbiology require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in biology, microbiology, medical laboratory science, or a closely-related field. The leading accreditor of medical laboratory science programs is the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), which approves university programs to ensure high-quality instruction and academic rigor for the benefit of educational programs, students, employers, and healthcare patients. A doctoral degree is required for microbiologists who want to conduct independent research in university laboratories.

For all educational levels, the professional certification for microbiologists and molecular biologists is available through the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), which offers the M(ASCP) credential for microbiologists and the MB(ASCP) credential for molecular biologists.

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Job opportunities in microbiology are expected to grow 5 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is just slightly slower than the national average for all occupations (8 percent), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021).

The average annual salary for microbiologists is $87,820 per year (BLS May 2021). Interestingly, the industries with the highest concentration of employment for microbiologists are scientific research and development, pharmaceuticals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, architectural, engineering, and related services, and the federal executive branch.

Contrary to popular belief, microbiology careers are not just about doing laboratory experiments. Many microbiologists report a high level of career satisfaction with regard to their subject matter and their research teams. Dr. Shanika Crusz, a consultant medical microbiologist at Nottingham City Hospital shared, “I’ll admit I love the subject. It endlessly interests me and I never get bored with dealing with infections and bugs or the subjects I really enjoy. But I think really the best part for me is working with colleagues both inside the department and across the hospital.”

Read on to learn about two career pathways in biology and their ASCP certifications: microbiology M(ASCP) and molecular biology MB(ASCP).

Early Preparation in High School for Microbiology Careers

It should come as no surprise that high school students aspiring to pursue microbiology or molecular biology careers should take as many courses as possible in biology, chemistry, and mathematics to prepare them for post-secondary coursework in bachelor of science degree programs. A solid background in basic computing skills and computer programming is recommended for students wanting to pursue molecular biology careers.

Engaging in extracurricular activities related to laboratory science, math, and after-school team-building and activities in the arts or athletics are also recommended. Internships in a laboratory or outdoor research setting can help students gain valuable insights into laboratory careers prior to applying to a program. Students are advised to keep their grades as high as possible to get into a reputable and accredited associate’s or bachelor’s degree program to prepare for microbiology or molecular biology careers.

A list of schools with national and regional accreditation can be found at the U.S. Department of Education and a list of schools with programmatic accreditation for microbiology and molecular biology can be found through the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Postsecondary Microbiology Certification Preparation

The American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) offers two microbiology technologist certifications: microbiology (M) certification and molecular biology (MB) certification. To determine eligibility to sit for either exam, applicants should use the ASCP examination eligibility assistant which includes a series of yes or no questions to determine qualifications.

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Technologist in Microbiology (M) ASCP Certification

To be able to sit for ASCP’s microbiology (M) certification exam, applicants must have at least one of the following degrees from a regionally accredited college or university, in addition to valid certification credentials and laboratory experience:

  • A four-year baccalaureate degree
  • A post-baccalaureate degree in medical laboratory science
  • A master’s degree in microbiology or an appropriately related field
  • Valid ASCP MT or MLS certification
  • One year of full-time experience (clinical, veterinary, industry, or research) in a microbiology laboratory in the U.S., Canada or an accredited laboratory within the last five years
  • Have successfully completed a program in microbiology under the auspices of a NAACLS-accredited medical laboratory scientist program within the last five years

Aspiring microbiology technologists are encouraged to see a bachelor of science program that is programmatically accredited by NAACLS. An example of a NAACLS-accredited medical laboratory scientist bachelor of science program is the bachelor of science in medical laboratory science at Wichita State University (WSU). This condensed program spans 17 months, including 12 months of instruction at WSU and five months of clinical practice at a medical facility.

Students can choose to take this course as full- or part-time students and is designed for current medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) with an associate’s degree. This program also prepares students for graduate studies in clinical professions such as physician assistants or physicians. Students can begin this program in the fall or spring semester and complete their five-month clinical practices at an affiliated medical facility in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Technologist in Molecular Biology (MB) ASCP Certification

To be able to sit for ASCP’s molecular biology (MB) certification exam, applicants must have at least one of the following degrees from a regionally accredited college or university, in addition to valid certification credentials and laboratory experience:

  • A baccalaureate, master’s degree, or doctorate in molecular biology, chemistry, biology, immunology, microbiology, allied health, medical laboratory science, or an appropriately related field from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A baccalaureate degree in biological science or chemistry or a baccalaureate degree including a combination of 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) of biology and/or chemistry
  • Valid ASCP certification as a technologist/scientist or specialist
  • Successful completion of a NAACLS-accredited diagnostic molecular science program within the last five years
  • One year of full-time experience (clinical, veterinary, industry, or research) in a molecular biology laboratory in the U.S., Canada or an accredited laboratory within the last five years

Bachelor of Science (BS) degree holders who want to further their studies and pursue leadership positions are encouraged to apply to masters of science programs in medical laboratory science (MLS). The University of Southern Mississippi School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences offer two NAACLS-accredited master’s degree programs: an online MLS graduate program for those who hold MLS certification and an on-campus MLS graduate program who do not yet hold MLS certification.

Students in the on-campus program must earn certification as part of an exit requirement for the degree program. Graduates from this program had a 100 percent job placement rate within six months of program completion and averaged a 97 percent pass rate on the ASCP national certification exam.

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M(ASCP) & MB(ASCP) Certification Exam Preparation

A variety of exam preparation resources are available through the ASCP and online study resources. Below are lists of exam prep materials for M(ASCP) and MB(ASCP) certification exams offered through the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) as well as other web-based self-study resources.

Microbiology M(ASCP) Certification Exam Preparation

  • ASCP: This PDF content guideline outlines the subtest content, descriptions, and exam percentages for microbiology (M) certification seekers. The four subtest areas include preanalytic procedures, analytic procedures for bacteriology, analytic procedures for mycobacteriology, virology, parasitology, and mycology, and laboratory operations. The M(ASCP) exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions in a computer adaptive testing format, which means the level of question difficulty increases in relation to the number of correct answers given.
  • Study.com: Accredited by the Better Business Bureau, this website offers a 17-chapter study guide to prepare for the M(ASCP) technologist in microbiology exam. This course includes short, informative, and engaging lessons to review microbiology lab techniques and equipment, bacteria parasites, viruses, and more. A 50-question practice test is available and test-takers receive a detailed report and statistics on their performance as well as specific feedback on areas to focus on for future study. Students can access this course via a web browser or from a mobile device app.
  • Quizlet: An online flashcard resource, Quizlet features open-source sets of vocabulary flashcards created by students and instructors. This free resource helps students learn microbiology vocabulary through rote memorization, writing, spelling, listening, and matching activities.

Molecular Biology MB(ASCP) Certification Exam Preparation

  • ASCP: This PDF organizes the content area, descriptions, and exam percentages for molecular biology (MB) certification seekers. The four subtest areas are molecular science, molecular techniques, laboratory operations, and applications of molecular testing. As with the M(ASCP) exam, the MB(ASCP) exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions in a computer adaptive testing format with the question difficulty increasing in relation to the number of correct answers given by the test taker.
  • Study.com: This web-based self-study website offers a 16-chapter study guide to prepare for the MB(ASCP) technologist in molecular biology exam. This course includes simple and fun lessons to review biological and chemical concepts in genetics, DNA replication, chromosomes, and nucleic acid and lab techniques. Upon completing this course, students should be able to discuss the chemistry of nucleic acids, explain aspects of microbial genetics, describe biological properties and laws of genes, and demonstrate knowledge of other concepts related to molecular biology. As with the M(ASCP) exam, there is a 50-question practice test available students can take at the beginning of the course which helps them assess which areas they’ve mastered and which areas they require more studying. Students can access this course via a web browser or from a mobile device app.
  • Quizlet: A vocabulary self-study website and app, Quizlet features open-source sets of vocabulary flashcards created by students and instructors. This free resource helps students learn ASCP molecular biology vocabulary through memorization, writing, spelling, listening, and matching activities.

A complete list of procedures for all ASCP examinations is provided by the ASCP BOC.

M & MB ASCP Certification Renewal Requirements

Every three years, M(ASCP) and MB(ASCP) certification holders will receive renewal notifications from the ASCP Credential Maintenance Program of their credentials and must earn 36 hours of credential maintenance program credits to be eligible for recertification.

For both certifications, a minimum of one point must be earned in laboratory, patient safety, or quality control. Additionally, a minimum of two points must be in microbiology for those seeking recertification as a technologist in microbiology (M) and molecular biology for those seeking recertification as a technologist in molecular biology (MB). The remaining points must be earned in areas such as lab specialty, management, education, or other related laboratory areas of interest.

The non-refundable application fee for recertification is $95 every three years with a $15 reduced fee schedule for multiple certification holders.

State Licensure Requirements in Microbiology

The ASCP keeps a list of specific state licensure requirements for microbiology and molecular biology certification. State licensure requirements vary widely for microbiologists, with some states requiring a state-specific licensure exam or a combination of a state-specific licensure exam and an ASCP certification exam.

Additional requirements may exist for previously certified or licensed microbiologists depending on their last date of certification. For example, California has three licensing pathways: 1) a California state license only, 2) ASCP certification and California state licensure, and 3) a licensure pathway for valid ASCP-certified microbiologists.

Applicants are advised to research the licensing requirements unique to the states in which they will seek work.

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Microbiology & Molecular Biology Certifications - M, MB (ASCP) (1)

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Rachel Drummond is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. A dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Rachel is interested in exploring the nuanced philosophical aspects of contemplative physical practices and how they apply in daily life. She writes about this topic among others on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).

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FAQs

How difficult is the ASCP? ›

ASCP BOC exams are difficult, so it may be wise to consider purchasing test prep resources and/or workbooks. These not only guide the candidate through the specific knowledge and skills that are the focus of their specific exam, but also often provide sample questions and tests that are invaluable practice.

How do I pass the ASCP? ›

Some general prep strategies include:
  1. Talk to your peers. To help study for your ASCP exam, talk to people who have been through it before.
  2. Take care of yourself. In addition to studying, you can prepare for the exam by caring for your own physical and mental wellbeing. ...
  3. Familiarize yourself with the testing location.

What is the highest score on the ASCP MLS exam? ›

The medical lab technician certification exam is graded on a 999-point scale, with 400 being a passing score.

What is the highest score on the ASCP PBT exam? ›

What is the highest score on the ASCP PBT exam? To pass, candidates must score at least 400, which is the minimum passing score. The highest score is 999.

How many times can you fail the ASCP exam? ›

A: You are permitted to take the examination in any one category a total of five times under one route. If you are unsuccessful after five attempts, you are ineligible for further examination in that category under the same route of eligibility. 15 people like this.

What happens if you fail ASCP exam? ›

According to ASCP guidelines, you can take an exam under the same eligibility route up to five times. If you fail to pass the exam after the fifth attempt, you are no longer eligible for that exam unless you can fulfill requirements for an alternate eligibility route (when available).

What is a good score on ASCP exam? ›

Passing Scores for the ASCP Exams

While the ASCP offers a wide range of professional certifications, all of the tests are scored on a scale from 0-999. A passing score is generally 400, so that's the target number you're looking for.

How many questions do you need to pass the ASCP exam? ›

There is no set number of questions one must answer to pass, nor is there a set percentage one must achieve to pass. If at the end of the exam the examinee's score is above the pass point, then he or she passes the exam.

How is the ASCP MB exam scored? ›

All ASCP exams are scored on a scale of 0 to 900 points. To earn a passing score, you'll have to get at least 400 points or more. Most of the tests span two hours and 30 minutes, during which examinees will face 100 multiple-choice ASCP exam questions.

Is the MB ASCP exam hard? ›

(MB) ASCP certification is one of the hardest exams to pass to be ASCP certified in molecular biology. Passing an ASCP exam to be MB (ASCP)CM is quite hard as it comprises difficult queries. Molecular biology knowledge is not enough to sit in the exam.

What is the passing rate for ASCP? ›

within 12 Months of Graduation = 88%

*Students sometimes choose not to take the certification exam for personal reasons, e.g., attending graduate or medical school, military, etc.

How competitive is ASCP? ›

It's a competitive process, and you have to be one hundred percent invested." Airmen are required to complete additional post-selection actions after notification of scholarship acceptance. Once completed, they are authorized to separate no earlier than ten days before their class start date the following term.

How long is ASCP certification good for? ›

Your certification is valid for a three year period. To maintain valid certification, completion of the Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) is required every three years.

How many questions are on the ASCP MB exam? ›

The MB(ASCP), MB(ASCPi), SMB(ASCP), and SMB(ASCPi) certification examinations are composed of 100 questions given in a 2 hour 30 minute time frame. All exam questions are multiple-choice with one best answer. The certification exam is administered using the format of computer adaptive testing (CAT).

Is ASCP or AMT better? ›

For example, the AMT certifies dental assistants where the ASCP does not; the ASCP is more sought-out by pathologists than the AMT. The breakdown of what each certification exam covers in detail can give you an idea of which one would be more useful to your individual goals.

How long does it take to get ASCP certificate? ›

How Long Does the ASCP Certification Process Take? Applications for ASCP certification must be completed within 30 days of starting them, and all requested documentation to prove that you meet the requirements must be submitted during that time. Completed applications are processed within 45 business days.

What is the difference between ASCP and ASCP? ›

The primary difference between the ASCP and ASCPi certifications is that laboratory operations questions regarding U.S. policies and procedures are specific to the USA ASCP exams. Questions regarding CLIA and OSHA regulations are replaced with ISO international standards questions in the ASCPi exams.

How do I prepare for ASCP MLS? ›

How to Prepare for your MLS (ASCP) Certification
  1. Study early and often to retain class material and to recognize related information across laboratory disciplines.
  2. During your MLS internship, review your class materials and connect your experiences in the lab with each content area.
13 Apr 2022

Is ASCP accepted in Dubai? ›

ASCP certification is accepted by all U.S. states and territories and the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai for licensure purposes, provided the individual meets all other licensure requirements.

Is ASCP accepted in USA? ›

To work in the USA as a Medical Technologist all states will require you to have one of two certifications, from either the: American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or; American Medical Technologist (AMT).

Is ASCP accepted in Canada? ›

Following your training, you can sit the exam right here in Canada, or in the USA depending on your choice The exam is administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and is a legal requirement before you can practice Medical Laboratory in not only United State but many countries with membership of ...

What is a good score on the biology exam? ›

What is a good AP® Biology score? Receiving a 3, 4, or 5 is generally accepted as scoring well on an AP® exam.

Why is ASCP certification important? ›

An ASCP BOC certification can result in improved job prospects, higher salaries and greater career satisfaction. Please review the buttons below to learn about eligibility requirements for each credential as well as important information About the Exam Process.

Is ASCP real? ›

ASCP is the oldest and largest professional society representing both pathologists and laboratory professionals.

What score do you need to pass the ASCP phlebotomy exam? ›

What is the passing score? To pass, candidates must score at least 400, which is the minimum passing score. The highest score is 999. “Pass” or “fail” will appear on the official score report.

Is LabCE good for ASCP? ›

LabCE's Exam Simulator can help you prepare for exams from ASCP, AMT, and more, including practice tests and materials for MLS, MT, and MLT students.

Where do I find my ASCP score? ›

You can find your valid certification dates and certification number through your ASCP dashboard. Under My BOC Activities, click the Home Page link. Select View Certifications to review current certification information.

How many questions is the MB 310 exam? ›

Microsoft MB-310 exam consisting of 40-60 questions needs to be finished in 2 hours. To pass the exam, you need to obtain a score of 700 out of 1000. The exam cost is $165.

What is the SMB ASCP for? ›

SMB ASCP is one of American Society For Clinical Pathology BOC cerificate in the filed of molecuar biology. It is awarded for a molecular biology specialist who pass the SMB ASCP certfication exam to be nominated SMB (ASCP)CM.

Can you take ASCP online? ›

ASCP offers a selection of online certificate programs that have been developed to support the ongoing professional needs of pathologists, laboratory professionals and residents.

Which is better MLS or MLT? ›

medical laboratory technician. While similar, there are a few key differences between a medical lab scientist and a medical lab technician. They both work in the lab and perform tests on biological samples, however, a medical lab scientist typically has more education and is able to perform more involved lab work.

How do you put ASCP certification on a resume? ›

Certification is listed before the (ASCP) or (ASCPi) with no comma or space, followed by superscript “CM” if applicable. 2. If one of the categories is MT or MLS, it should always be listed before the (ASCP) or (ASCPi) as above regardless of chronology. 4.

How do you know if you passed the ASCP exam? ›

After the exam, you should receive an email to log in and view your final scores. 7. If you passed the exam, you will receive a certificate within 6-8 weeks, as well as a Credential Maintenance Program booklet containing info on maintaining your certification.

What is a good score in ASCP? ›

Passing Scores for the ASCP Exams

While the ASCP offers a wide range of professional certifications, all of the tests are scored on a scale from 0-999. A passing score is generally 400, so that's the target number you're looking for.

How long does it take to become ASCP certified? ›

What Is an ASCP Certification and How Can I Earn It?
Purpose of ASCP CertificationAffirms that the holder is competent and trained for specific healthcare roles
Length of Certification ProcessApplications processed within 45 business days; exam scores are reported within four business days
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How long does it take to get ASCP? ›

examination upon determination of your examination eligibility. and time of your choice within the 60 day time period indicated on your Admission Notification. days of the date of your examination, followed by your wall certificate within 4-8 weeks.

Can you take the ASCP without a degree? ›

The ASCP accepts applications from candidates who have either an associate degree or a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter credit hours. No major is specified, but you must have attended a college or university that is approved by a national or regional accreditation board or agency.

Does ASCP certification expire? ›

Individuals awarded ASCP qualification receive a time-limited qualification valid for a three year period. These individuals are required to participate in the requalification process to maintain a valid ASCP qualification or their qualification will expire.

How many times can you fail the BOC? ›

Retake eligibility and signing up are the same process. Candidates may retake the exam five times a year once in each window.

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