No matter what type of lab manager you aspire to become, the training and qualifications to get there are largely the same. Most employers require a bachelor's degree in a health or science field such as chemistry, biochemistry, or biology, and you might need up to five years' management experience to really be competitive.
Depending on where you work, you might also need a license or certification, such as the Diplomate in Laboratory Management certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. The 100-question exam tests lab managers' acumen in four professional areas: financial, operations, human resources, and quality management.
Because running a lab is like running a small business, strength in those four areas can set you apart from other candidates, especially if you're also able to demonstrate the following skills:
- People and management skills: Successful lab managers are exceptional leaders and mentors, have strong interpersonal skills, and can assess individual strengths when hiring lab workers.
- Business and operational skills: As operational leaders, lab managers review data and make strategic decisions related to capital purchases, staff management, inventory, and short- and long-term planning.
- Scientific skills: Yes, lab management involves managing the business and the people, but it's still about the science, too. So managers must set the technical standard and lead by example, delegate tasks when necessary, and maintain a safe working environment.