How To Become a Laboratory Manager: Career Guide
To become a laboratory manager (also known as a laboratory coordinator) you need a combination of having an interest in research, the ability to lead others, industry experience and training, the proper skill set, education, and knowing where to look for a job.
Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a laboratory manager. We've also included helpful information for a laboratory manager career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed to Become a Laboratory Manager
Typically, to become a laboratory manager, you first need to obtain a bachelor of science in the appropriate field. For example, those looking to work as a pharmaceutical lab manager should obtain an undergraduate degree in biochemistry or pharmacy.
Possible fields of study for aspiring lab managers may include, but is not limited to: botany, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacy and environmental science. Depending on the employer, you may need to have a graduate degree in the appropriate field in order to supervise the functioning of the lab.
Experience Needed to Become a Laboratory Manager
It is typically for laboratory managers to progress into their positions from an entry-level or technical position with the laboratory. This route into a managerial position provides candidates with excellent background experience and knowledge with the specific equipment, systems and processes of the laboratory.
Because most lab managers earn the position as a result of their experience and competencies, there are no universal qualifications to become a laboratory manager; each individual employer usually determines the specific qualifications of this role. However, employers typically expect their lab managers to have a combination of technical and managerial skills, as well as extensive experience in a laboratory setting.
Success Tip: Gain as much lab experience as you can while you’re a student by volunteering to help professors and other students with their projects!
Laboratory Manager Job Description
A laboratory manager, also known as a senior lab technician and laboratory coordinator, is responsible for overseeing the work activities and personnel of a scientific laboratory. Laboratory managers are responsible for organizing and controlling all aspects of a laboratory environment.
Laboratory Manager Job Duties
• Schedule the work activities of laboratory employees
• Make risk assessments for the laboratory and ensure that the company's Health & Safety policy is adhered to
• Determine when the laboratory needs to be open for students or researchers
• Keep track of all laboratory equipment and materials
• May be required to create and follow a budget
• Act as an interface between management or the client and laboratory staff
• Ensure that any personnel using the laboratory adhere to safety policies and procedures
• Ensure the proper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous materials
Laboratory Manager Salary
According to the Lab Manager Magazine Salary and Budget survey (2007 figures), the earnings of laboratory managers in the United States, broken down by industry, are as follows:
• Pharmaceutical Lab: $69,800
• Biotech Lab: $69,040
• University Lab: $46,760
• Clinical or Research Lab: $62,910
• Industrial Lab: $72,270
• Government Lab: $69,040
• Private Lab: $64,050
• Other: $55,000
Please Note: Salary levels can vary considerably for laboratory managers, depending on the level of education, who the employer is, and the amount of experience.
Skills Needed to Succeed as a Laboratory Manager
Just because someone hopes to become a laboratory manager, doesn’t mean they have what it takes to become successful. Below is a list of skills and attributes aspiring laboratory managers will need in order to succeed in their careers.
• Must be able to effectively liaise with lab technicians, as well as internal and external customers
• Must be able to respond quickly to breakdowns in systems or processes
• Need to posses good analytical, problem solving and decision-making skills
• Must maintain a proactive approach to work activities
• Must pay very close attention to details
• Need to posses excellent time management skills
• Must be able to motivate staff and team members
• Must be able to take direction from internal and external customers
• Must be able to clearly and concisely communication instructions
• Need to be able to understand graphs
• Must be able to maintain accurate records and prepare reports
• Need a thorough knowledge of all the equipment and processes used in the laboratory
• Must be able to make rational decisions under pressure
Who Hires Laboratory Managers
Laboratory managers can be hired by any organization that plans and executes research utilizing laboratory equipment and processes. These employers typically include:
• Government research facilities
• Pharmaceutical companies
• Private research firms
• Universities and colleges
Laboratory Manager Job Opportunities
Laboratory Manager Jobs - Canada
Laboratory Manager Jobs - United States
Careers Similar to Laboratory Manager
Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Laboratory Manager, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: Laboratory Manager Career
Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a Laboratory Manager.
Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca
Lab Manager website: www.labmanager.com
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov
Scholarships for Becoming a Laboratory Manager
Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Laboratory Manager can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a Laboratory Manager: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a laboratory manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!