Laboratory manager

What they do

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.

Working conditions

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.

Tools and technologies

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a laboratory manager you usually need to gain a qualification in laboratory technology.

The Diploma of Laboratory Technology is offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.

You can also undertake a traineeship in laboratory technology (level 5). The traineeship usually takes 36 months to complete.

Tertiary studies are usually needed to advance into higher management positions. You can study a science degree majoring in biomedical science, medical science, laboratory medicine, clinical laboratory science, chemistry or a related area.

Most 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, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.