Lab Manager: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a lab manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education, job duties and necessary experience to find out if this is the career for you.

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Lab managers are responsible for running laboratories safely and efficiently and can work in a variety of different kinds of labs. They need at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions as well as some relevant experience.

Essential Information

Lab managers bring together their managerial skills and knowledge of safety and lab procedures to ensure that laboratories operate smoothly. Managerial duties generally include scheduling staff, reordering supplies, and maintaining security standards. A bachelor's degree in a laboratory-related area and several years of experience are usually required for a lab manager position.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Several years' relevant experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% for natural sciences managers*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $120,160 for natural sciences managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Lab Manager Job Description

Successful lab managers strive to run their laboratories safely and efficiently. They take responsibility for all aspects of the labs where they work, including equipment, employees, supplies, software, and documentation. However, lab managers' specific job duties can vary drastically depending upon the type of laboratory they work in.

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Job Duties of Lab Managers

These professionals complete an array of duties. They train lab technicians and assistants on the correct use of lab equipment, in addition to mentoring and disciplining lab staff. Lab managers make sure their employees follow industry standards and safety regulations for handling and disposing of test samples.

It's a lab manager's job to schedule lab or equipment use time for staff. Some lab managers also are responsible for purchasing lab supplies or preparing ordering lists. They often handle security documents and must ensure that all information and data collected in the lab is kept safe. This is especially relevant in government laboratories and can involve the use of special software and computers.

Requirements for Prospective Lab Managers

Generally, companies prefer to hire lab managers with a bachelor's degree. Health care laboratories typically seek employees with a degree in medical technology, while industrial and manufacturing companies tend to hire candidates who were educated in chemistry or chemical engineering. Other jobs are available to those with specialized degrees.

Employers also demand strong managerial abilities and five to seven years of experience. Lab managers must possess excellent interpersonal communication skills and be able to lead and direct others. A high amount of mechanical prowess is useful as well, due to the lab equipment upkeep portion of a lab manager's job.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) natural sciences managers, a category that lab managers fall under, earned a median annual salary of $120,160 as of May 2015. The BLS also indicated that natural sciences managers can expect slower-than-average job growth of 3% from 2014 to 2024.

Those who want to become lab managers should earn a bachelor's degree in medical technology, chemistry or chemical engineering, depending on what type of lab they wish to work in. They must also have at least five years of managerial experience in order to be competitive in the hiring process.

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