Career Outlook for MLS graduates

graduatesThe diverse scientific background that medical laboratory scientists (MLS) 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 MLS 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 medical 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

Job possibilities are also numerous and diverse outside of the traditional hospital setting. Employers include commercial diagnostic laboratories, forensics 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 medical 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.

Note that an undergraduate degree in MLS is also excellent preparation for graduate school, medical school, physician assistant programs, and pharmacy school. Personal initiative and integrity combined with problem solving skills are abilities that make our graduates excellent candidates for advanced education.

Employment projections

Annual U.S. vacancy rate is ~9-20% Job opportunities are excellent because the number of job openings continues to exceed the number of qualified laboratory scientists available.1 Employment of clinical and medical laboratory workers is expected to grow 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is considered much faster than average compared to all occupations.1The volume of laboratory tests continues to increase with population growth, complex disease management, and the development of new clinical tests, as well as the increased need for testing with an aging population. 
Number of new laboratory professionals each year is ~4,800 (or 1.5% of 2008 workforce)

Using the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012-2022 employment projections, a total of 70,600 job openings are projected by the year 2022.1 Shortfall of laboratory professionals is ~4500 annually; by 2018 ~9,000 per year.

The median wage for Medical or Clinical Laboratory Scientists in May 2012 was $57,580.  The middle 50 percent earned between $44,560 and $63,420.

References

  1. US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, accessed 9/10/15 on the Internet at: 

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm.