Lab Manager Jobs: Career and Specialization Options

Medical, scientific and forensic laboratories all need managers to ensure the labs run efficiently. Read on to discover your career options in the field of laboratory management and to learn about the career prospects for each option. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

If you work as a laboratory manager, your duties will include developing laboratory policies, supervising technicians' work and overseeing administrative matters, such as budget, quality control and compliance. You'll ensure that your laboratory is a safe environment for workers and that equipment is kept up-to-date. Depending on your place of employment and your specialization, you may need to report your laboratory's progress to a supervisor or regulatory board. You may also be responsible for training technicians, students or assistants. Generally, you'll take on these responsibilities in addition to performing many of the duties of a lab technician.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), if you want to work as a lab manager in any field, you'll typically need to have laboratory experience as well as a Ph.D. in your area of specialty ( reported that lab managers in general made a median wage of $67,891 in June 2019. Most laboratories are devoted to research and analysis, but you may choose to pursue a specialty at a medical laboratory, a laboratory devoted to other types of scientific research or a forensic laboratory.

Important Facts About Lab Manager Jobs

Medical and Clinical Lab technologists Natural Science Managers Chemists (Forensic Lab Directors)
Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree in medical technology or life sciences. Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Work Experience None 5 years or more None
On-the-Job Training None None None
Similar Jobs Biological Technicians, Chemical Technicians, Chemists, Material Scientists Agricultural & Food Scientists, Biochemists, Biophysicists, Chemists, Material Scientists Chemical Engineers, Environmental Scientists or Specialists, Natural Science Managers, Materials Engineers

Medical Lab Manager

If you work as a medical laboratory manager, you'll oversee technicians and technologists who collect and analyze medical specimens for abnormalities or irregularities. Your technicians will use medical equipment to evaluate blood, tissue, skin and bodily fluids. Since you'll be working with infectious specimens, your duty to keep the laboratory safe and clean will be particularly important. Your duties as a medical lab manager may also include:

  • Advising technicians which tests to administer
  • Serving as a liaison between technicians and physicians
  • Presenting laboratory findings at medical conferences
  • Writing grants for funding

Scientific Research Lab Manager

If you manage a scientific research laboratory, many of your duties will depend on the nature of the laboratory's research. For example, if you're a biology researcher, your laboratory may focus on developing drugs or studying genetic code. If you manage an engineering laboratory, your technicians will run tests on technological equipment and record results that they'll report to you.

If you go into scientific research, your laboratory may be part of a university, which means you'll report to a department chair. You'll also have teaching duties.

Crime and Forensics Lab Manager

If you manage a crime or forensic laboratory, you'll be responsible for ensuring that evidence is properly collected and processed so that it can be presented in court. In addition to supervising lab technicians, you'll also work with detectives, attorneys and judges to build a case. Your duties may include:

  • Supervising evidence collection at a crime scene
  • Overseeing the processing of case evidence
  • Analyzing collected evidence
  • Maintaining the laboratory's security
  • Disclosing findings to the court through testimony and presentation of evidence

Job Outlook and Salary

While the BLS does not report employment or salary statistics specifically for medical lab managers, in May 2018, the BLS reported that medical and clinical lab technologists earned an median annual wage of $52,330. reported that medical lab supervisors were paid a median salary of $68,281 in June 2019. Employment growth for medical and clinical lab technologists was expected to be very fast at a rate of 13% between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS.

While the BLS does not report salaries for scientific lab managers generally, in May 2018, it reported that the mean annual wage for architectural and engineering managers was $148,970, while the median annual wage for natural science managers was $139,680. Natural sciences managers working in scientific research and development averaged $169,830, while architectural and engineering managers in this industry averaged $170,980.

According to the BLS, both these careers will experience average employment growth between 2016 and 2026. The outsourcing of research and development will lead to a ten percent growth for natural sciences managers, while a decline in the manufacturing industry contributes to a six percent growth for architectural and engineering managers.

The BLS groups forensic lab directors with chemists, and it reported a May 2018 average wage of $83,850 for chemists. Like engineering and natural sciences managers, these professionals can expect to have slow growth between 2016 and 2026, at a rate of six percent. However, having a Ph.D. can improve your job prospects.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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