Laboratory managers are responsible for planning and overseeing the operations of a scientific or medical laboratory. Their responsibilities may include equipment and consumables, staff management, software, the development of experimental and safety procedures, budgeting and general strategic planning. This is a senior position in which an individual would normally be expected to have both specific expertise relating to the types of experiments they oversee and extensive experience. While specific tasks vary significantly according to the laboratory type,
Laboratory Managers may perform the following tasks:
- Planning research activities, rostering staff, developing and monitoring the budget and providing reports to management
- Overseeing maintenance of the laboratory and equipment, planning and organising replacement equipment, ordering consumables, conducting risk assessments and safety audits
- Establishing policies and procedures for work to ensure technical and safety standards are maintained, monitoring quality control activities and adjusting policies and procedures when necessary
- Recruiting, training and supervising staff in performing research and maintaining the laboratory and equipment – cleaning, inspecting functionality, and reporting faults. Also, conducting performance appraisals and implementing staff development plans
- Maintaining knowledge of the regulatory environment and updating professional knowledge through research, reading the literature, and participating in conferences
Sectors and industries
Laboratory Managers work in laboratories in both public and private organisations that conduct research or analysis. These may be located in large private sector firms such as pharmaceutical companies, as well as public or private hospitals, government organisations, universities or museums.
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In addition to technical knowledge and an interest in research, Laboratory Managers require excellent management, interpersonal and communication skills to effectively manage the functions of the laboratory as well as recruit, train, develop, supervise, motivate and lead staff to achieve outcomes. A diverse skill-set - good analytical, problem-solving, organisational, time management and decision-making skills - is essential to perform the wide range of duties involved. They also need to be able to perform detailed work to a high level of accuracy and produce well written reports, policies and procedures.
Laboratory Managers require a degree related to the field applicable to the laboratory, such as, biochemistry, botany, biology, chemistry, pharmacy, medical technology or environmental science. Postgraduate qualifications would enhance employment prospects and may be required by some employers. They also require extensive laboratory experience.