Job Profile: Diagnostics Laboratory Manager

Medical diagnostics laboratories play a pivotal role in providing the information physicians require for making sound patient treatment decisions. Laboratories perform a wide array of diagnostic testing, clinical trials, and medical device development services to help improve overall human health. Diagnostics laboratory managers stand at the helm to direct the daily operations of these clinical testing centers. Medical laboratory managers are given a mid-level supervisory position for overseeing the lab’s technicians and other staff. It’s their duty to oversee lab analysis and ensure that testing is being completed in accordance with quality standards. Diagnostics laboratory managers may specialize in supervising the processing of blood or tissue samples, the manufacture of new drugs, or the development of medical test kits.

Salary

Based on statistics published on Salary.com, the median annual salary for medical laboratory managers in the United States is $93,072. This could be equated to $45 per hour or $1,790 each week. With bonuses, social security, healthcare, pensions, and time off included, diagnostics laboratory managers bring home an average total income of $130,606 annually.

Beginning Salary

When first being promoted as a diagnostics laboratory manager, you’ll likely land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with a yearly wage around $70,730. However, keep in mind that senior lab managers with years of experience can eventually make a sizeable six-figure base salary upwards of $113,427 each year.

Key Responsibilities

Diagnostics laboratory managers have the primary responsibility of guiding lab analysis projects and reporting findings back to physicians. Supervising personnel with sample testing and clinical trial procedures is the bulk of the job. Laboratory managers are also given administrative tasks though. Most will be involved in hiring new staff, evaluating job performance, tracking the financial budget, ordering medical equipment, testing the lab for safety, updating technicians on the latest testing regulations, and keeping result records. Diagnostics laboratory managers are basically responsible for making the sound business decisions required to keep the lab running smoothly without a hitch.

Necessary Skills

Working as a diagnostics laboratory manager will require that you possess the technical skills to ensure technicians and technologists are meeting quality assurance standards. Being detail-oriented with good organizational skills is essential since lab managers must document and distribute testing results. Medical laboratory managers should have the computer skills to easily operate lab equipment, software, and databases. Good leadership skills are a must for managers to monitor all activities taking place in the lab. Diagnostics laboratory managers should have the interpersonal skills to communicate with their staff, physicians, pharmaceutical representatives, and other healthcare professionals. It’s also important that diagnostics laboratory managers have the integrity to always provide accurate, confidential results.

Degree and Education Requirements

Before you can become a diagnostics laboratory manager, you’ll need to obtain at least a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most future lab managers start with an undergraduate major in health science, laboratory science, chemistry, biology, or another life science. Attending a program approved by the National Accrediting Agency for Laboratory Science (NAACLS) is smart. For advancement into diagnostics lab management, you may need a master’s degree to fine-tune your leadership and business acumen. Many laboratory managers pursue graduate school to receive a Master of Health Administration (MHA) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in healthcare.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Like other healthcare administration careers, being a diagnostics laboratory manager will come with its fair share of rewards and challenges. On the plus side, lab managers make a lucrative average yearly salary with great benefits and room for advancement. Medical laboratory managers are given the rewarding chance to guide cutting-edge healthcare innovations and provide diagnostics insights that could potentially save lives. Lab managers work in a comfortable laboratory office setting with minimal interaction with patients. It’s also possible for managers to find jobs in several medical settings from hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to private corporations. On the other hand, diagnostics laboratory managers usually must invest in a master’s degree and several years of testing experience. The job can be stressful when dealing with tight budget constraints, deadlines, and lab regulations. Medical laboratory managers also will face heated job competition for promotion due to slow employment growth.

Getting Started

Having the right experience is crucial for being promoted to diagnostics laboratory manager. It’s strongly recommended that you begin building a resume with relevant work experience in a medical diagnostics laboratory while earning your degree. Complete a supervised internship, co-operative, research assistantship, or field practicum placement in a lab. Getting involved in your university’s medical or biological labs could also be helpful. After graduation, you’ll have to work your way up as a clinical laboratory technologist. Some states require medical laboratory personnel to be licensed, so follow your state’s regulations if necessary. You may need three to five years of work experience before becoming a diagnostics medical laboratory. Take this time to specialize your skills in a specific science area, such as immunology, histotechnology, or hematology. Diagnostics laboratory managers may also benefit from receiving board certification through the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS).

Future Outlook

Demand is high for medical testing and diagnostics because our nation’s large aging baby boomer population is presenting a greater need for healthcare treatment. Increased insurance coverage also has resulted in more patients receiving diagnostics testing. However, job growth is expected to be much slower for managers than medical technicians and scientists. Research activities are increasingly outsourced, which means management is being consolidated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of laboratory managers will grow slower than average by six percent through 2022. This will result in the creation of only 2,900 jobs nationwide. Diagnostics laboratory managers will find the best job prospects in pharmaceutical companies, medical manufacturing firms, hospitals, government agencies, universities, and private research development institutions.

Physicians count on medical laboratories to deliver precise clinical diagnostic test results and diagnostic testing devices to answer questions about their patients’ conditions. Laboratory managers work at the forefront of these clinical centers to direct the day-to-day operations of diagnostics technicians. Not only do diagnostics laboratory managers help doctors detect infection and disease, but they also pioneer the development of breakthrough medical innovations that improve healthcare delivery. If you make the decision to become a diagnostics laboratory manager, you’ll build a rewarding healthcare administration career coordinating the essential scientific diagnostic applications our medical industry needs.