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Career Definition for a Medical Laboratory Manager
A career in medical laboratory management is a step up for medical lab technologists and technicians who devote the time to education and training. Medical laboratory managers oversee all lab operations, manage lab staff and establish standard lab analysis and recording methods in hospitals, research centers and other medical settings. In their laboratories, medical laboratory managers supervise the processing, analysis and testing of blood and tissue samples to identify abnormalities and assist doctors in making informed decisions about diagnoses and treatments.
|Education||Bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in a life science field|
|Job Skills||Organizational, leadership, ability to learn quickly, and adept with medical technology|
|Median Salary (May 2017)*||$118,970 (all natural sciences managers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||10% (all natural sciences managers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Medical laboratory managers often start as medical laboratory technicians or technologists. Technicians begin with an associate degree, while technologists usually enter the field with a bachelor's degree in medical technology accredited by a professional organization, like the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Technologists then take a certification exam, and some pursue professional licensure, depending on state regulations.
These steps, plus professional experience in a general medical or surgical hospital, are good preparation for earning a master's degree or a Ph.D. in medical technology or in one of the life sciences. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), federal regulations require that directors and managers of complex medical laboratories hold a graduate degree or an undergraduate degree with a specified amount of on-the-job experience.
Medical laboratory managers must possess excellent organizational and leadership skills; they're responsible for keeping track of all laboratory samples that come in and out of their labs, including analysis, documentation, and distribution of results. The most successful medical laboratory managers are adept with technology, including computer programs and laboratory equipment, and they learn new technologies quickly.
Because labs are held accountable for providing accurate results, says the American Medical Association (AMA), medical laboratory technologists must be thoroughly knowledgeable in pathology, immunology and hematology; medical laboratory managers are responsible for ensuring that their laboratory personnel meets these requirements and must be capable of establishing quality assurance standards to be followed by all staff.
The BLS estimates that jobs for natural science managers, including lab managers, may grow 10% for 2016-2026. The BLS reported in 2017 that these workers made median annual wages of $118,970. Advancing from technologist to medical laboratory manager increases responsibility, opportunities for career growth and earning potential. The education and training required to reach this level is demanding but not without reward, especially for those who secure government employment or positions in large hospitals and medical centers.
Alternate Career Options
Medical and Health Services Manager
These managers can be responsible for an entire facility or a certain department or clinical area. They oversee a variety of health and medical services in nursing homes, hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. A bachelor's degree in health administration is the minimum requirement for this career. In May 2017, the BLS reported their annual median earnings as $98,350 and predicted much faster than average growth in available positions, at 20% from 2016-2026.
Social and Community Service Manager
Increased demand for these managers during the 2016-2026 decade should lead to much faster than average employment growth of 18%, according to the BLS. Typically these managers earn bachelor's degrees in urban studies, social work or public administration. They oversee community organizations or introduce new social service programs to their communities. As of 2017, the BLS reported $64,100 annual median earnings for social and community service managers.