What Does A Lab Manager Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Lab Managers

Lab Managers manage labs. They oversee the management, operations, training, safety, and maintenance responsibilities of the lab.

Bachelor's degree

Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

Lab Managers are responsible for managing the staff working in a laboratory. They manage daily operations to ensure that the lab runs smoothly while also ensuring that the staff follows all safety procedures.

Lab Managers also typically need related technical skills for the industry where they work, along with five years or more of industry experience.

For example, a Lab Manager for a clinical lab typically needs many years of clinical experience. Managing a research lab requires research experience. However, earning a Master’s degree reduces the amount of experience required to become a Lab Manager.

What they do

Lab Managers manage labs. They oversee the management, operations, training, safety, and maintenance responsibilities of the lab.

Manage Staff

The main responsibility of the Lab Manager is to manage the staff that works in the lab. This may include Technicians, Researchers, and various entry-level workers.

The Lab Manager may set the schedule, approve vacation requests, and contact employees when they do not show up for work. The Lab Manager is also often responsible for disciplining employees when they do not meet work expectations.

Monitor Operations

The typical lab conducts multiple projects or tests at the same time. The Lab Manager is responsible for monitoring these operations and ensuring that each project receives the necessary supplies, equipment, and labor.

For example, a Lab Manager may schedule the use of equipment or laboratory facilities. They may also need to review and approve the proposed tests and projects.

Order Supplies and Manage Budgets

The Lab Manager oversees the ordering of supplies and equipment. They also need to monitor the lab’s budget when ordering items from a vendor.

Maintain Safe Procedures

The Lab Manager is responsible for the overall safety of the lab. They must ensure that employees follow all necessary safety procedures and regulations. This may include scheduling training sessions for employees.

Oversee Equipment Maintenance

Laboratories contain a variety of specialized equipment and tools. As the manager of the lab, you are responsible for ensuring that the equipment is properly maintained, cleaned, and stored. You may direct Technicians and lab staff to ensure all equipment is cleaned and sanitized.

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What is the job like


You Get to Help Maintain a Productive Lab

Many Lab Managers take pride in their ability to manage a productive, safe lab environment.

You May Work in a Variety of Industries

Almost every industry that researches or developments products or materials require Lab Managers, giving you a wide range of career options.

Increased Job Satisfaction

Lab Managers often experience higher levels of job satisfaction compared to lower-level employees, possibly due to the responsibility of their position.

You May Continue Your Education

Many employers offer to cover some or all the costs of continuing your education, allowing you to specialize in specific technical or scientific fields.


Your Subordinates May Not Treat You as an Equal

Some Lab Managers struggle to feel like they are part of the team due to their managerial position.

You Take Blame for the Mistakes of Others

When a member of the lab staff makes a mistake, the Lab Manager is the one who is ultimately responsible.

Where they work

Food Companies
Pharmaceutical Companies
Healthcare Agencies
Law Enforcement and Government Agencies

Universities and Colleges

Lab Managers work in any industry that uses laboratories for research or development. This may include clinical or research labs for food companies, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare agencies, government agencies, and manufacturing companies.

Lab Managers may also oversee labs for law enforcement agencies, such as crime labs and forensic labs. Other employers include universities and colleges that operate labs.

How to become one

Step 1: Achieve High Grades in Core Subjects

Getting into a good college requires a high GPA. Aspiring Lab Managers should achieve high grades in core subjects, such as Science, Math, and English.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for Lab Managers. The field of study should be related to the industry where you plan on working, such as Medical Technology for managing a medical lab.

Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree

Earning a Master’s degree is an optional step that may reduce the work experience needed to become a Lab Manager. Instead of five years or more of experience, you may only need one to two years of experience.

Step 4: Obtain an Entry-Level Position

Many Lab Managers start as entry-level Technicians or Researchers before progressing to the role of Manager.

Step 5: Seek Promotions to Become a Manager

Excel at your entry-level job and continue to seek promotions to gradually work your way up to becoming a Lab Manager.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Leader

People with this personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Lab Managers need to exhibit confidence, which is a common characteristic for leaders, as it encourages others to follow your instructions. Working as a Lab Manager also requires good interpersonal skills, due to the need to delegate tasks and work closely with lab staff.

Time management and organizational skills are also essential to manage the variety of operations at the lab, including the daily work of the staff, deliveries from vendors, and administrative paperwork.

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