Help wanted: laboratorians

April 24, 2019

This year’s Salary Survey got me thinking about the shortage of medical laboratory professionals. According to our survey (read it on page 18) 92 percent of respondents reported feeling very secure or somewhat secure in their position. Not only do the laboratorians who responded to our survey feel secure, they also feel satisfied with their job—88 percent reported feeling very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their job.

Why aren’t we using these statistics to draw people toward a career in the medical laboratory? MLO is a niche magazine, but these results are—obviously—very positive.

Let’s look at another industry to see how medical laboratory technologists compare for job growth. For example, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer programmers have a projected job loss of seven percent for 2016-2026.1 On the other hand, the BLS projects a 13 percent average increase in medical laboratory technologists and technicians between 2016 and 2026.2

These statistics are available to let’s say, a high school student looking into future potential careers, but perhaps get overlooked due to lack of knowledge about the profession itself. A quick google search of, “What is it like to be a medical laboratory technologist?” yields pages upon pages of articles, videos, pictures of smiling lab techs, forums, and so on.

Where I grew up in CT, we were exploring job opportunities as early as the 5th grade! I remember we had an entire career fair, where we had to create a poster board with information on it about a career we thought we may go into one day. I chose lawyer—I am not a lawyer and I did not even consider applying to law school after undergrad. But the point is, I don’t remember hearing anything from the 5th grade or later about a career in the laboratory. When we got information about careers in healthcare, it was always doctor or nurse and what variations of those existed. Now that I’m an adult, I personally know both doctors and nurses, but no medical laboratory technicians. After college, I looked up the salary for a phlebotomist out of curiosity (and out of worry that I’d never use my English degree) and stumbled upon medical laboratory technician jobs on my own.

More information should be provided to high school students, or perhaps even middle school students, about the possibilities of a career in the medical laboratory industry. Those who excel at science and have an interest in medicine, but don’t want to be face-to-face with patients would be excellent candidates for a job in the lab.

So, maybe the readers of MLO can start spreading the word about what it’s like to be a laboratory scientist and boast how secure and satisfied they feel with their job. Or maybe it’d be worthwhile to show a high school student the results of the Salary Survey, which reflects not only job satisfaction/security, but income potential.

All I am sure of, is that there is a need for more readily available information for those who may want to explore a career in laboratory science.


  1. (2019). Computer Programmers: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Apr. 2019].
  2. Flanigan J. (2019). Addressing the Clinical Laboratory Workforce Shortage. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Apr. 2019].