RLAT and RMLAT
Registered Laboratory Animal Technician
Registered Master Laboratory Animal Technician
Who are Registered Laboratory Animal Technicians and Registered Master Laboratory Animal Technicians?
Have you wondered how a specific animal or human medication or treatment came to be? Or how they were approved for administration to animals or humans? RVTs working in laboratory animal science (LAS) play an important role in the development of new pharmaceuticals and medical devices for both animal and human medicine by advocating for the animals that make new technology possible.
RLATs and RMLATs are experts in the care of laboratory animals, including husbandry, nutrition, technical procedures, disease prevention and biosecurity, quality assurance, compliance and safety, and are skilled and knowledgeable in several areas, including assisting scientists conduct research on disease processes and how to treat them.
Laboratory Animal Science combines expertise working with both farm and zoo animals, in addition to the traditional mice, rats and fish. Having this variety of species provides a better understanding of medical treatment-patient interactions.
Education & experience
A high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement, however many RLATs and RMLAT’s hold an associate or bachelor’s degree in animal science, biology or a related field.
Degrees in these fields usually include courses in animal science, genetics, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and communications.
Often lab animal technicians come from working as an RVT where they would have gained useful knowledge and experience to apply to being an RLAT/RMLAT.
The Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science (CALAS-ACSAL) provides certification of laboratory animal handling, husbandry and research techniques.
Certification with CALAS-ACSAL is an internationally recognized designation that promotes:
Higher quality animal care: Technicians with enhanced knowledge in laboratory animal science can dramatically improve the quality of animal care in Canada.
Career advancement: Achieving certification can open doors to professional development opportunities to pursue more varied tasks and responsibilities.
Documentation of training: The CALAS-ACSAL Certification Committee documents when a practitioner has met nationally standardized level of expertise in laboratory animal science. This documentation is increasingly being recognized as a requirement by Institutional Animal Care Committees.
Continued education: Preparation for examinations is a foundation on which many individuals build a program of continuing education for themselves. Involvement in CALAS-ACSAL provides many opportunities for continuing education and keeping abreast of advancements.
Networking opportunities: When you become a certified member of CALAS-ACSAL, you join a national group of animal care and research technicians with a common interest in laboratory animal care and well-being.
For more information visit CALAS-ACSAL.org
Becoming a Registered Laboratory Animal Technician
If you’re already an RVT (or are a second year Veterinary Technology student aspiring to become an RVT after graduation), you can apply for the Provisional Registered Laboratory Animal Technician Exam Program (RLAT-P). Once accepted into the program, CALAS-ACSAL provides study materials to prepare for the exam. After passing this multiple choice exam, you have up to three years to gain 1,500 hours of lab animal relevant experience, at which time you can apply for the oral practical exam to become a certified RLAT.
Becoming a Registered Master Laboratory Animal Technician
After five years of RLAT certification, or a combination of certification and management experience, you’re eligible to apply for the Registered Master Laboratory Animal Technician Program (RMLAT). Once accepted into the program, CALAS-ACSAL provides study materials to prepare for the written exam. After passing this long answer exam, you’ll need to write a research paper on a topic of your choice, and prepare for the oral exam. Becoming an RMLAT is helpful when seeking supervisory or management positions.
Compensation & hours
As in every profession, there are a number of factors that influence compensation, including: the province or territory you’re practicing in; if you have your own practice or are working at an institution; the number of years you’ve been practicing; the size of the institution you’re practice at; the type of practice; if you’re in a unionized environment; the industry you’re practicing in e.g., university lab, pharmaceutical lab, etc.; whether you’re practicing in an urban or rural setting; whether the position is full time or, as is often the case, a contract position; and external factors such as supply and demand and the country’s overall economic situation. An RLAT can earn from $25-$50 an hour. An RMLAT can earn an annual salary between $70,000-$100,000.
Like in many other professions, an RLAT’s and an RMLAT’s work week is based on an average of eight hours a day for a total of 40 hours a week.