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The 13th Annual Salary and Employee Satisfaction Survey

How satisfied are Lab Manager readers with their current benefits and training opportunities?

Catherine Crawford-Brown

Catherine Crawford-Brown is the digital media coordinator for Lab Manager. She has an M.Sc. in pathology and molecular medicine from Queen's University, where she researched circulating biomarkers for breast cancer....

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Lab Manager's 13th Annual Salary and Employee Satisfaction Survey

We asked Lab Manager readers to tell us about their current employment status, available benefits, professional development opportunities, and future prospects. A total of 691 individuals responded, with almost half of respondents holding positions as lab managers. About 28 percent of these survey respondents are working in research and development while almost 20 percent are working in the clinical industry. Close to one-third of those surveyed work at universities or colleges.

Which of the following best describes your job title?

Lab Manager/Supervisor/Director46.08%
Research Scientist12.35%
QA/QC Manager/Director5.23%
Academic Professor4.36%
Principal Investigator2.76%
Academic Student1.74%
Safety/Risk Manager1.60%
Facility Manager1.45%
Corporate Manager1.31%
Project Manager/Director1.16%
Purchasing Agent0.29%

The survey results show stability within the industry, despite losses in employee benefits. Looking at median salaries, Lab Manager readers earn more than the median US salary. While bonuses are available to the majority of survey respondents, more than one-third are unclear on how bonuses are actually determined. Most respondents are satisfied with their job-specific training opportunities, but the opportunities for mentoring and career development within their organizations are lacking.

Longevity in the lab

Looking at career span, almost 50 percent of those surveyed have been working in their industry for 20 years, while approximately 25 percent have been working for their current employer for at least 20 years. These numbers show that Lab Manager readers have experienced long-term job security in this industry. When reviewing future prospects, more than 70 percent of individuals reported that they will be working for the same company in the same position this time next year, indicating job stability. This steadiness is further exemplified by the 88 percent of survey respondents who are working permanently in full-time positions.

Which of the following best describes the field of research or industry in which you currently work?

Biological Science8.61%
Molecular/Cell Biology or Genetics8.18%
Environmental Science7.59%
Clinical Diagnostics6.28%
Animal Science/Veterinary Medicine1.90%
Consumer/Durable Goods1.46%
Instrumentation Design/Development0.73%

Salary and gender

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary in the US in the second quarter of 2019 was $47,372. Lab Manager readers are making well above this, reporting a median salary of approximately $75,000. About 40 percent of survey respondents are earning between $45,000 and $85,000 annually.

Unfortunately, a gender bias still exists among Lab Manager readers in terms of salary. For those who identify as female, 63 percent hold managerial roles while their median salary was approximately $70,000. This is much lower than the $85,000 median salary reported by those who identify as male, especially considering that only about 55 percent of these individuals hold managerial positions. The discrepancies in salary seen in this survey based on gender are just a small representation of the larger battle for wage equality that is currently happening in the fields of science.

What is your annual salary, not including bonuses?

 All respondentsMaleFemale
Less than $25,0006.94%6.56%6.37%
$25,000 - $34,9996.33%6.56%6.05%
$35,000 - $44,9995.88%3.28%6.69%
$45,000 - $54,99910.56%7.38%12.74%
$55,000 - $64,99910.41%10.66%11.78%
$65,000 - $74,99910.71%9.02%12.42%
$75,000 - $84,99911.92%8.61%14.33%
$85,000 - $94,9997.99%9.02%7.32%
$95,000 - $109,99911.61%15.16%8.60%
$110,000 - $124,9995.88%8.20%4.46%
$125,000 - $149,9996.33%6.97%6.37%
More than $150,0005.43%8.61%2.87%


Approximately 60 percent of those surveyed are offered bonus incentives. Almost half of these bonuses are valued at less than $500. The most common determinants for bonuses include meeting team goals or objectives (35.4%), meeting financial or revenue goals (32%), or meeting individual goals or objectives (29.6%).

Interestingly, many individuals are unclear on what the criteria actually is for bonuses. More than one third of those who are eligible for bonuses reported that they don’t know how individual bonuses are determined. This is a missed opportunity to boost your salary. Speak to your supervisor about their expectations and how you can work toward a bonus.

Healthcare benefits suffer

More than 75 percent of survey respondents have access to benefits including vacation or paid time off, health insurance, and sick or personal days. Less common benefits include dental insurance (70.1%), life insurance (60.2%), and vision insurance (59.3%). A minority of respondents listed pension contribution as a benefit and a meager five percent of employees reported assistance with childcare.

Which of the following employer-provided benefits are you currently receiving?

Vacation or paid time off86.28%
Health insurance81.55%
Sick or personal days76.83%
Dental insurance70.12%
Life insurance60.21%
Vision insurance59.30%
401K matching50.61%
Pension contribution41.92%
Wellness programs41.62%
Tuition reimbursement27.13%
Stock options7.47%
Profit sharing6.25%
Childcare assistance5.18%
Car allowance2.74%

Approximately 18 percent of survey respondents reported a change in their benefits over the last year. While not all were bad, more than 40 percent of these changes resulted in either increased out of pocket costs to the employee for health insurance, or decreased health insurance coverage. This is especially troubling for employees in the US where chronic illnesses such as diabetes are almost unmanageable without adequate health insurance.

Career and personal development are lacking

While survey respondents feel prepared to do their jobs competently, they still desire further professional development. Approximately 89 percent of individuals agree that their experience and skills are adequate for their current position, but 42 percent would like more on-the-job training for their current positions. A further 58 percent of respondents are planning on seeking additional on-the-job training on their own. In terms of training and resources, more than 40 percent of employees agree that their organizations provided them with adequate initial training and are providing adequate ongoing training. Almost two-thirds of survey respondents also agree that their organizations provide them with the information, equipment, and resources needed to do their job well.

Please reply to the following statements on training and resources provided by your organization

This organization provided as much initial training as I needed28.37%44.20%
This organization provides as much ongoing training as I need28.07%42.43%
This organization provides the information, equipment, and resources I need to do my job well18.03%63.17%
This organization provides training or experiences to help me explore other opportunities within the company37.27%30.97%
This organization provides training or education to help me balance my work and personal life30.93%37.21%
This organization provides mentorship and career development opportunities37.99%32.50%

Where employees are lacking resources is in the area of career and personal development. Close to 40 percent of respondents think that their organization does not provide them with opportunities to explore other options within the company or does not provide mentorship and career development opportunities. Close to one-third of survey respondents do not think their organizations provide education to help them balance their work and personal lives. Training in these particular areas will help keep your employees engaged with their work and teach them how to work more efficiently, which ultimately benefits organizations.

Leadership training is especially important as approximately 78 percent of survey respondents are responsible for supervising other employees in their roles. More than 30 percent of these individuals are supervising one or two employees. Another 17 percent are supervising between 10 and 24 employees. Incredibly, almost two percent of respondents are supervising more than 100 employees. Close to 40 percent of those who have supervisory roles are supervising students in their labs or offices. Leadership training will help these individuals be more effective supervisors.


There is a discrepancy in where individuals are looking for jobs versus where employers are recruiting. More than two-thirds of those looking for opportunities seek them within their personal or professional networks. In contrast, just over 40 percent of recruiters consult with their personal or professional network when looking for candidates. The most common place employers are searching for candidates is internally, through their HR department or through internal job postings. This means it might be difficult for external applicants to break into a company.


Overall, there is job stability within the industry, with less than one percent of individuals anticipating job losses in the coming year. However, employees are experiencing other losses, particularly when it comes to benefits. Clarifying the criteria for bonuses might help these individuals recoup some of these losses.

In terms of salary, there continues to be a gender bias among Lab Manager readers, with those who identify as male earning more than those who identify as female, despite having more women in management roles.

Most importantly, the survey results emphasized the need for more employer-implemented career and personal development training to help keep employees engaged and well-balanced.