There are many industries in the nation that have seen significant growth over the past decade. The medical and biotech laboratory industry is no exception to this trend; it’s expanding in spite of the economy’s slow recovery. On the surface, this sounds like a promising field to look into if you’re a millennial graduate, but it isn’t necessarily that straightforward. Before diving into to the biomedical field, you’ll need to understand what you’re getting into—and we don’t just mean how to use fume hoods or where you’ll be in 10 years’ time.
Stats and Facts
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical and clinical laboratory technician field’s growth of open positions will increase by 16 percent over the next 10 years. Salary amounts start at $35,000 per year and increase to as much as triple this rate, but the median is $51,000.
The minimum requirements for most lab positions aren’t all that robust, though more experience will ensure better success at interviews. Expect to possess a two-year associate’s degree with some work-related experience to get the job.
There is, in fact, a rising demand for diagnosing the aging population that will sustain the growth of the industry in the near future. Choosing to pursue a career in this field could very well provide you with a life-long job you love as long as you go about it the right way.
Mass Retiring and Aging Baby Boomers
Lab job work will benefit from aging baby boomers directly. The loss of older and experienced laboratory technicians who will most likely retire in the next five years will significantly increase available positions.
Around 20 percent of experienced lab techs in nearly every medical field fall under or close to the baby boomer generation. This rapid loss of senior workplace experience will hurt the knowledge base of the current bulk of laboratory technicians somewhat, but this is balanced by the increase in available jobs.
Unfortunately, this knowledge is difficult to replace. Labs will need to work harder than ever to train newer techs on the job, and techs will need to rely more on their previous education to acclimatize to newer standards.
Schools Lack Training Programs
If only the solution was to just rely on formal education to fill in the gaps of workplace experience. Unfortunately, heavy cuts to laboratory training programs at colleges across the country are resulting in less actual lab time in school.
The numbers reflect this statistic. Despite the fact that 7,000 new lab tech jobs open every year, college training programs only produce around 6,000 potential lab techs. The shortage means that schools are only able to train 85 percent of the workforce. In an environment like a lab, where it simply isn’t as easy to train technicians, this is a very notable problem.
Added Pressure on Current Lab Techs
There is a growing pressure for current lab techs to find more efficient and effective ways to get new lab techs up to speed. This is worsened by a constantly rising demand for professional lab techs and poor training resources, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get the training you need; it just means labs need to get creative.
Many modern labs are decreasing the clinical rotation cycle to get more new techs first-hand experience. Some programs have already dropped their normal 22 weeks down to 12 weeks, but the demand is high enough that 8 weeks may have to be the new limit.
Internships may also open up the floor for experience without stressing either the lab or the student. Although salary is often lacking, real-time lab experience under a mentor is incredibly valuable.
Technology and future iterations of current machines (including computers) will also make training and education in lab work much easier. One online learning module, eClinic, is under development to use 3D technology that simulates laboratory conditions and virtual classrooms at the same time. Students can use eClinic to run experiments without the same risks they’d face in real-time.
Though virtual reality isn’t the same as hands-on experience, it is nearly as accurate and wide-reaching in scope. In an industry that needs all the help it can get, this new technology helps to fill in the gaps.
Is your lab struggling to find new workers with enough experience to work safely and efficiently? Start with having the right equipment from day one. From fume hoods to lab furniture, Genie Scientific has everything you need to run your lab smoothly, effectively, and comfortably.