University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
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Job Outlook for CLS

Employment Opportunities. Job opportunities are EXCELLENT because the number of job openings continue to exceed the number of qualified laboratory scientists available.1 Some openings result from the expansion of health care and opportunities in other settings (e.g., ambulatory services, manufacturing) but most from the need to replace workers that are retiring. Additionally, openings are available because of individuals making career changes or that leave the workforce for other reasons (e.g., health or family issues). A willingness to relocate can further enhance one’s job prospects.

Employment Projections. Employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow 14 to 19 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is considered faster than average compared to all occupations.1 The volume of laboratory tests continues to increase with population growth, complex disease management, and the development of new clinical tests.

Employment and Wage Statistics. Using the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2008-2018 employment projections, a total of 53,300 job openings are projected by the year 2018.3 Currently, the

  • Annual U.S. vacancy rate is ~9-20%
  • Number of new laboratory professionals each year is ~4,800 (or 1.5% of 2008 workforce)
  • Shortfall of laboratory professionals is ~4500 annually; by 2018 ~9,000 per year

The median wage for Medical or Clinical Laboratory Scientists in May 2008 was $53,500.3 The middle 50 percent earned between $44,560 and $63,420.

Employers. The diverse scientific background that clinical laboratory scientists (CLS) receive in their education provides almost endless career possibilities. The majority of new graduates obtain employment in hospital laboratories where they perform laboratory tests that play a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. In a hospital setting, an CLS is well-prepared and can advance to hold supervisory or management positions within the laboratory or to specialize in the complex testing of a specific laboratory area (e.g., microbiology, immunohematology). In addition, a clinical laboratory sciences education provides an excellent foundation for hospital positions outside the laboratory, as in infection control, medical records management, laboratory and hospital information systems, hospital administration, quality assurance and compliance programs, or transplant services. 

Job possibilities are also numerous and diverse outside of the traditional hospital setting. Employers include commercial diagnostic laboratories and laboratories in clinics or offices of health practitioners. Career opportunities in the manufacturing sector (e.g., pharmaceutical, medical device manufacturers) include varied positions in research and development, sales and marketing, or technical support. A clinical laboratory sciences education also provides a unique and sought after foundation for positions such as an attorney, analyst for medical insurance companies, technical consultant, expert witness, computer programmer or systems analyst, editor, writer, or illustrator for medical publications. Careers as an educator can also be pursued, whether in K-12 education, at the university level, or in industry. See Table 1 for a listing of careers held by Clinical Laboratory Scientists.

Note that an undergraduate degree in CLS is also excellent preparation for graduate school. Personal initiative and integrity combined with problem solving skills are abilities that make our graduates excellent candidates for advanced education.

References

  1. US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 edition, Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, accessed August 10, 2011, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos096.htm#outlook.
  2. US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010, 29-2011 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists, accessed August 10, 2011, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292011.htm#ind.
  3. O*Net Online, Details Report for: 29-2011 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists, accessed August 10, 2011, http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/29-2011.00.