Summary of occupation
Laboratory managers plan, organise, direct and coordinate a range of activities in the lab. They perform administrative duties, supervise and assist other staff members, oversee tests and experiments and present the results to clients, and ensure that all tests and projects are completed on time. They may manage and coordinate the financial, human and material resources of the laboratory, provide scientific advice to clients, and prepare statistical and performance data for reports.
In Western Australia, laboratory managers may work in a broad range of industries for organisations such as chemical manufacturers, food and beverage manufacturers, government agencies, hospitals, textile manufacturers and universities.
Plans, organises, directs, controls and coordinates the operations of a research or production laboratory.
A laboratory manager needs:
- a strong interest in scientific and research-based activities
- to be able to accurately analyse, interpret and record data
- a high level written and verbal communication skills
- excellent organisational, planning and time management skills
- strong leadership and motivational abilities
- to be able to work independently and as part of a team
- have experience in resource management
- have analytical and problem solving skills
- have knowledge of Work Health and Safety legislation/principles
- to implement and review quality management systems and accreditation
Laboratory managers work in laboratories, which may operate independently or be attached to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, museums or universities. They also work in commercial laboratories and the resources sector, including being situated at remote mine sites. They supervise the lab work to ensure work is completed on time.
Laboratory managers and their team may work with potentially hazardous materials. Following proper workplace safety standards such as wearing protective clothing greatly minimises any associated risks.
On average, laboratory managers, classified under other specialist managers, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a laboratory manager develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Laboratory managers use computers and specialised laboratory data software to assist in tracking and presenting results, and the management of the laboratory. They need to be familiar with general scientific equipment/analysers and specialised testing and measuring equipment, and computer-controlled machinery and instrumentation. They may need to wear protective clothing such as laboratory coats, gloves and safety glasses.
To become a laboratory manager, you need to complete a formal qualification in laboratory technology. However, you may improve your employment prospects by completing a science degree majoring in biomedical science, chemistry, laboratory medicine or a related field.
The Diploma of Laboratory Technology is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. However, tertiary studies are needed to advance into higher management positions.
You can also complete a traineeship. The technical officer (food laboratory) and technical officer (pathology laboratory) traineeships usually take 36 months to complete.
You can complete a science degree majoring in biomedical science, laboratory medicine, clinical laboratory science, chemistry or a related field.
All universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Most laboratory managers will generally have worked for a number of years in a technical or senior medical scientist position, depending on the sector they work in, before progressing to a laboratory manager role. They may also be required to complete further studies in management.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.