IABS – Icelandic Association of Biomedical Scientists
(Félag lífeindafræðinga)

Authorisation of Biomedical Scientists
In Iceland, the right to call oneself and work as a biomedical scientist is given to those who have completed the final examinations from the Faculty of Biomedical Science in the Department of Medicin at the University of Iceland, or an equivalent examination from a foreign university, and who have received the appropriate authorization from the Directorate of Health and Social Security.

Icelandic Association of Biomedical Scientists
To obtain authorization as a biomedical scientist in Iceland, it is necessary to send data concerning your qualifications to the Directorate of Health along with the application which, after reviewing the data, will either confirm your eligibility with authorization or decline.


Qualifications required for a Biomedical Scientist

The Ministry of Education is responsible for legally regulating the education of biomedical scientists. The degree or right to call oneself a Biomedical Scientist in Iceland is associated with a minimum of 4 years full-time education at B.Sc. level at a recognised university. The course involves lectures and practical sessions, work experience in research laboratories at the National University Hospital, and a research project.

At the Department of Medicin in the University of Iceland students graduate with B.Sc. after 3 years minimum but need to add an extra year to specialize in their chosen field of work or continue to do M.Sc degree and Ph.Degree. Both the Masters and Doctorate levels are undertaken in the Faculty of Biomedical Science in the Department of Medicin at the University of Iceland. Entrance requirements are a matriculation examination or equivalent, preferably with a scientific focus.


According to the Icelandic Law No. 34/2012 about Health Service Personell nobody can work as a Biomedical Scientist in Iceland without a registration and work permit from the Directorate of Health.

The Icelandic Association of Biomedical Scientists is a union as well as a professional body and fees are only payable through the employer as a part of salary agreements. Without employment as a Biomedical Scientist in Iceland, no fees will be forthcoming and the membership expires.

Applications for registration as a Biomedical Scientist in Iceland should be directed to the Directorate of Health. With the application it is necessary to send information about education. For further information it is best to contact the Office of the Directorate of Health.

The Icelandic Association of Biomedical Scientists is a meber of NML, EPBS and IFBLS. The applicant’s registration in the Association of Biomedical Scientists in the country he or she is currently working as a Biomedical Scientist will be of great help both for the applicant and the task of assessing the applicant by the Icelandic Association.

The Icelandic Directorate of Helath requires the original of all documents rather that copies. However, certified copies (stamped) will sometimes suffice. The Ministry makes its own certified copies of the original papers and returns them to the applicant.

The following papers are required for application for registration:

• Passport.
• Work permit or application for work permit as a Biomedical Scientist in Iceland. Work permits are usually obtained with the aid of the  future employer. Work permit will be kept on hold by the Ministry until registration is confirmed.
• Transcripts of records, records of exams and degrees from the applicant’s university.
• Work certificate or proof of professional licence in the country where the applicant studied and/or from the country where the applicant recides and works (i.e. your Board Certificate, Board Rating and/or Professional Licence).

Attention! ONLY BIOMEDICAL (LABORATORY) SCIENTISTS can be registered as such in Iceland. No other education is accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does the training of biomedical scientists involve?
The university courses take 4 years. To begin with, students learn the basics: chemistry and physics, anatomy and physiology, statistics and fundamental aspects of biotechnology. This is followed by instruction in methodology and the main fields of biotechnology in the health service, namely clinical chemistry, microbiology, histopathology, immunology, pharmacology and haemopathology. Molecular biology and genetics play a large part in the course, and a substantial research project is also carried out. Clinical placements take place in clinical chemistry, haematology, microbiology and histology laboratories. Students graduate with a B.Sc. (Hons.) degree and many go straight on to do their MSc degree which takes two years minimum with the possibility to continue into their PH D degree.

2. What professional standards are followed during the course of work as a biomedical scientist in Iceland, and how do biomedical scientists interact with other health professionals?
Icelandic Biomedical Scientists develope their own code of conduct. They work closely with medical doctors and all other hospital staff depending on the task at hand.

3. What is the professional title in Iceland (national and international)?
Lífeindafræðingur – Biomedical Scientist.

4. What professional job possibilities exist in your country?
Biomedical Scientists work in hospitals and clinics as well as research laboratories run by the state or local authorities. In addition, they work in large private genealogy companies, such as deCode Genetics, and in pharmaceutical companies and other laboratories run by the private sector.

5. Is there any possibility for self-employment (if yes, under what conditions)?
Yes. Should the Biomedical Scientist wish for a possiblity to reduce the cost paid by the customer/patient a permit from the Ministry of Health and Insurance is necessary.

6. What ministry is responsible for legally regulating the education of Biomedical Scientists (Ministry of Health, Science or Education)?
The Ministry of Education.

7. Is there any possibility of advanced university study (if yes, what sort of study)?
M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the Department of Medicine or the Faculty of Biomedical Science at the University of Iceland, carried out at the National University Hospital in Iceland.

8. What authorisation is required for work done by Biomedical Scientists (is a directive or referral by a physician necessary)?
Administrative medical doctors hold the administartive positions in the clinical laboratories. An initial official request by a physician is necessary for any professional activity if the price paid by the patient is reduced by the government. Theoretically a Biomedical Scientist can set up his or her own laboratory and operate without the reduction rate for which no reference is needed from a medical doctor. Should test results indicate anomalies the Biomedcial Scientist would suggest that the client should go to see a medical doctor. However, no Biomedicla Scientist has opened a private clinic in Iceland.

9. Are there any other assisting professions for laboratory tasks (what kind of education do they have, what is their title)?
Medical Laboratory Assistants and Biomedical Secretaries. No specific training is required for these professions, instead assistants are sent on short courses during work time.

10. Do Biomedical Scientists have the authority to delegate work to these assisting professions?

11. What are the requirements for teaching activities by Biomedical Scientists?
A Masters degree or a PH D degree in the subject.

12. Are specific education requirements laid down for teachers of Biomedical Science (if yes, at which institution, duration of the education, what kind of degree)?
Preferably the teacher should be working in the field (at a laboratory) he or she teaches as well as having a minimum degree in the subject.

13. What are the requirements for supervisors of Biomedical Scientists?
To have a degree in Biomedical Sciences or have acquired full rights as a medical doctor and do research.