Money Talks

ADVANCE readers offer input on salary standards in clinical laboratories across the U.S.

The time has finally come. Following a 3-month data collection period, during which time more than 2,500 ADVANCE readers took the time to fill out the annual survey and provide information on their average compensation, we are pleased to announce the results of the 2016 Laboratory Salary Survey. These will be released in three helpful segments, followed by a fourth installment detailing the complete series.

For a group of healthcare professional thoroughly relied upon in the industry-as up to 70% of clinical decisions are based on lab results—it should logically follow that the average pay reflects the importance of the position.1 While many in the industry think laboratorians have not been adequately compensated in the past, our survey reveals salaries are on the rise. What is being done to increase the salary of MLPs?

“When there was a critical nursing shortage in the ’80s, there was a movement in the ANA, other nursing organizations and nurse unions to work towards increasing the visibility of nurses and their importance in healthcare which also helped to increase nurses’ salaries,” wrote the survey taker.3 “Now that we have a clinical lab scientist shortage, what is being done to elevate the field and the corresponding salaries?”

The Results

The results of this year’s survey will be sure to bring about several additional questions regarding the role of clinical laboratory professionals in the healthcare industry. By taking a look at the overall data, ADVANCE is able to provide a sneak peek into what kind of information you can expect to find in the installments to come (focused on age, gender and title, respectively). Of course, all of this information will also be presented in its entirety with the release of the complete series.

Starting with concerns about a potential workforce shortage, the numbers certainly don’t seem to lie.4 The data indicate that the most common age of responders ranged between 50-59 (35%), while those aged between 21-29 made up just 6.4% of responses — second lowest only to those over the age of 70 (1.7%). Not surprisingly, the most statistically common position held by responders was that of a bench technologist (28.5%). Similarly, 39.1% of those surveyed identified as generalists.

As far as general wages are concerned, the average salary of a medical laboratory professional (MLP) was calculated to be $76,332.69. Those making between $60,000 and $69,000 annually, however, made up the bulk of the pay scale at 21.1%. An improvement from last year, ADVANCE saw a slight increase in the number of MLPs who received a pay raise this year (65.1% — compared to 63.1% as of the 2014 results), with the vast majority of those that received a raise reporting a 1-3% bump (73.4%).5

The gender results were especially interesting this year. It’s no secret that the clinical laboratory industry is somewhat dominated by a female workforce, but our survey participants truly underscored the gender gap — 80.9% identified as female as opposed to just 18.8% as male. Despite their overwhelming presence in the laboratory, however, only 16.7% of the women surveyed reported holding an administrative director or manager position compared to 31.4% of the men.

The Take-Away

During the data collection period, ADVANCE also hosted a poll that posed the question, “What do you feel is the most appropriate starting salary for an entry-level MLP?”6 The answer came in the form of two distinct majorities. According to the poll, 43% felt a starting salary over $45,000 annually would be most appropriate, while 31% answered the same question with a starting salary under $30,000 annually-even despite the possibility of a looming workforce shortage. With results this divided, the take-way from this year’s salary survey is clear: in order to improve their circumstances in the healthcare industry, MLPs must find a way to stand together.

Given that the salary survey will now be an annual aspect of ADVANCE for Laboratory‘s online content, it will be interesting to see how these statistics continue to evolve in the years ahead. This year’s results will be interpreted and analyzed in a variety of ways by both our staff and our readers. To offer additional insight into the salary results, not only will each installment of the coming statistics focus on a specific area of the clinical laboratory related to salary, but we have also invited experts from COLA, ASCP and ADVANCE contributors to discuss the matter in real time with a webinar to be featured in early November. Be sure to let us know what you think as the remaining statistics are presented over the next two months.


  1. Quest Diagnostics. 70% of medical decisions are based on lab results.  Available at:
  2. Nace L. ADVANCE Discourse — Lab: Struck a nerve.  Available at:
  3. ADVANCE for Laboratory. The 2016 Laboratory Salary Survey. Available at:
  4. Nolan C. Laboratory workforce shortage. Available at:
  5. ADVANCE for Laboratory. 2014 Laboratory Salary Survey Results, Part 6: The Complete Series. Available at:
  6. ADVANCE for Laboratory. What do you feel is the most appropriate starting salary for an entry-level MLP? Available at:


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