Laboratory managers oversee the operations of many different types of laboratories, including medical, criminal, research and research and development labs. Lab managers supervise laboratory technologists and technicians, ensure that the lab is compliant with applicable regulations and regularly review and revise laboratory procedures.
Medical laboratory managers work in hospitals, doctor's offices and stand-alone clinics, supervising staff that process specimens and samples for diagnostic purposes. Managers of medical labs typically begin their careers as medical laboratory technologists and develop their supervisory and management skills on the job.
Step 1: Complete the Relevant Education
Upon graduation from high school, those interested in working in laboratory settings may pursue a 1-year laboratory technician certificate, 2-year laboratory technologist degree or 4-year degree in biology, biochemistry or other health and science fields. Suitable programs include coursework in human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, epidemiology, health care management and biochemistry. Many hiring companies may prefer candidates who hold a bachelor's degree in a related field; regardless of educational background, potential employees are expected to have additional experience working within a clinical laboratory setting.
Look for internship opportunities. Internships provide aspiring laboratory managers with the opportunity to learn their craft through hands-on experience under the direction of senior lab technologists and scientists. Interns with advanced training may assist technologists with reading and recording test results, processing medical specimens and handling laboratory equipment.
Step 2: Meet Any Licensure and Certification Requirements
Some management positions require prerequisite training as a laboratory technologist, which requires licensure in some states. Licensure requirements vary by state, but often necessitate the aspiring technologist to complete an approved educational program, have clinical experience working in a lab and pass a licensing exam.
Employers may look for applicants with certification as a laboratory technologist, which is available from professional associations such as American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Qualifications vary, but usually require that the certification candidate hold recognized educational credentials and pass a certifying exam.
Research continuing education requirements. Individuals with a license and/or certification should familiarize themselves with the necessary continuing education requirements and complete continuing education courses as needed for renewal.
Step 3: Gain Experience
Laboratory managers often attain their higher-level position after several years of experience working as lab technicians or technologists. Depending on the job duties, some managers may have first worked in administrative positions in healthcare settings, including medical offices, clinics and hospitals. Technicians and technologists can also gain management experience by working as lab supervisors before they become lab managers.
Join a professional association for laboratory technologists. Professional associations, like the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA) and American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), offer development and networking opportunities.
Earn a graduate degree. While not an absolute requirement for becoming a medical lab manager, earning a graduate degree in a relevant field can be helpful in career development. Some possible fields to consider include master's degrees in business administration, public health or doctoral degrees in chemistry or the biological sciences.
Obtain the Diplomate of Laboratory Management (DLP) credential. The DLP is a recognized certification offered by the ASCP. This voluntary credential can often benefit a lab manager's career by showing advanced skill in the field. In addition to passing a certification examination, candidates for the DLP must document that they meet one of the approved sets of qualifications, comprised of various levels of education, certifications and work experience.
Â· Clinical laboratory science professionals work primarily in a laboratory and while technicians and technologists don't often see patients, they play a large role in patient care. They're called upon to perform tests, procedures, or research that contributes to the detection and treatment of disease. Often they assist physicians in making a correct patient diagnosis.
Â· Working as a Technologist or Technician
Â· Following the completion of their online career training, technicians and technologists often take jobs in physicians' offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, research laboratories, government agencies, college and university research facilities. They can continue their learning to qualify for specializations as cytotechnoligists, diagnostic molecular scientists, histotechnologists, or phlebotomists.
Â· Technicians and technologists perform many of the same duties. They work in hospital and clinic laboratories performing tests on patient samples, such as blood and urine. They evaluate the tests and pass along the results to other medical professionals. Depending upon their specialization, these professionals work with ever-advancing computer and medical device technology. Their ultimate level of training and experience often dictates their day-to-day duties.
Â· Online Clinical Laboratory Technician or Technologist Training
Â· Online career training programs offer a blend of distance learning along with directly supervised practical laboratory experience. Some colleges offer training in a series of intensive week-long or multiple-week seminars that combine online studies with on-location practice.
Â· Clinical laboratory science majors typically become clinical laboratory technicians and technologists. Technologists have completed at least a bachelor's degree and are required to be nationally certified. Technicians usually have an associate's degree or certificate, and they are supervised by clinical laboratory technologists.
Â· Clinical laboratory science majors usually are required to take many science courses, including biology and organic chemistry. Courses in urinalysis, microbiology, and lab techniques are also required. At the bachelor's degree level, classes include detailed studies in the biological sciences, microbiology, mathematics, statistics, chemistry, and computer programs.
Â· Technicians may advance their careers by completing their bachelor's degree, while technologists may move into leadership roles following post-graduate studies in management or business. Some states require working laboratory technicians or technologists to hold licenses or registrations. Technologists typically become licensed after passing a state exam. There are also online programs leading to PhDs in the health sciences.
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