Research technologists are essentially laboratory scientists. They analyze anything from bodily fluids to tissues to pathogens in an attempt to help with the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Most employers seek candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or life sciences as well as an advanced certification, particularly when specializing in a certain area of medicine. Pay varies by employer and location.
In 2012, medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned an average of $58,640 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made in excess of $78,900 a year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $39,580 a year. The midway point for the career was a salary of $57,580 -- close to the national average.
As with any job, the employer has a way of affecting earnings. The largest percentage of research technologists works directly for hospitals. But this employer doesn't pay the highest salaries, offering an average of $59,360 a year. The second largest percentage of workers fared even worse, earning $58,340 a year working for medical labs. Salaries tended to increase in smaller niches, however. For example, those working for the federal government earned $64,100 a year, while those at pharmaceutical companies made about $64,600 a year.
Like employers, location affects salaries. Among the states, research technologists in California made the most money -- an average of $77,550 a year. Those working in Massachusetts were a distant second, earning an average of $67,570 a year, while research technologists in Alaska came in third, with an average annual salary of $66,760. In South Carolina, the average salary was $45,140 a year -- the lowest in the nation.
The BLS expects employment for research technologists to grown by 11 percent through 2020. This is slower than the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated 14 percent. Eleven percent equates to the creation of roughly 19,200 new jobs. Driving this growth is the aging population. As people live to a more advanced age, additional researchers are needed to help with diagnosis of disease and other medical conditions.
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