The demand for lab scientists growing

| May 12, 2008

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Online

FORT WORTH — The economy may be sick, but laboratory-loving science types have never had it better.
Aging baby boomers are helping drive the demand for lab tests, and the programs that train people to work with the technology report a healthy demand.

‘They’re starting out at about $25 an hour,’ said Sally Lewis, who heads Tarleton State University’s clinical laboratory sciences department in Fort Worth. ‘The salaries are incredible, and nobody knows.’

Tarleton’s clinical laboratory science program draws students from as far away as California and Florida and graduates about 30 students a year. Classes start in July and January. It’s one of only two such programs in North Texas.

Job possibilities for certified clinical laboratory scientists include instrument sales and service, and forensic, veterinary, research, hospital and reference laboratories. Qualified scientists can earn $70,000 with a few years’ experience, Lewis said.

‘Lab managers can be more,’ Lewis said. ‘The people who are very valuable are CLS people who go on to get a Ph.D. in molecular biology. If you want to continue, it’s a great stepping stone.’

Many program graduates quickly move into sales positions because the people who sell high-tech lab gear need expertise in the field, said Karen Murray, Tarleton’s Fort Worth-based assistant vice president for academic affairs and outreach coordinator.

The demand isn’t limited to Texas. The American Society of Clinical Pathology’s Web site showed openings from Berkeley to Baltimore, as well as jobs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for senior laboratory experts willing to work with AIDS programs in places such as Nigeria and Vietnam.

About half the enrollees have degrees when admitted to the programs, but undergraduates can use program requirements to complete their Tarleton degrees. Students at other universities can also arrange to receive degrees through their schools after completing classes in Fort Worth.

Danielle LaVista, 22, was on the road to medical school but got put on the wait list after graduating from Tarleton with a degree in biomedical science last year. Now, she’s in the clinical laboratory sciences program and loving it.

‘This is the next-best thing,’ LaVista said. ‘It sounds like everybody who graduates is going to get a job.’

Category: Clinical Laboratories

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