Public Health Lab Director

Present employment rates are slowly on the rise, but many jobs are still hard to come by, especially for trained professionals.  The field of public health not only has an impressive amount of job openings, but is also able to employ people who are in a number of specialties.  The career of public health lab director is a great example of a position that is both stable and offers advancement opportunities.

Public health jobs make up a large part of the health services industry, but they also provide employment in research and development.  The job of public health lab director offers a good way to help improve treatment and intervention options while finding a financially sound position.

What Is A Public Health Lab Director?

A public health lab director is the manager of a research facility that operates in conjunction with the local, state, or federal department of health, in order to conduct testing and analysis on biological samples from the population.  This may include analyzing materials for legal proceedings, but can also be focused on determining possible contagions or toxins in the environment that may affect community welfare.

Public health lab directors are required to perform the following tasks:

  •   Oversee staff members in their practices and techniques.
  •   Ensure that proper chain of evidence and safety protocols are being observed.
  •   Schedule employees and designate tasks.
  •   Generate reports on productivity, practice, and the use of resources.
  •   Manage financial aspects of running the lab.
  •   Release reports on possible public concerns such as health epidemics.
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These professional skills are also necessary for the job of public health lab director:

  •   Leadership skills:  You will need to manage your staff and the facility.  This will include holding all individuals accountable for tasks and proper procedures.
  •   Communication:  You will need to pass on information in both verbal and written formats, and will also need to assure that this is done accurately and with clarity.
  •   Lab techniques:  Aptitude in proper lab procedure is a must, as you will be responsible for guiding and educating staff if proper handling is not observed.

Nature Of The Work

Public health lab directors will work both in the lab facility and in the administrative office of the building.  You will divide your time between observing and interacting with staff members, and assessing reports, results, and financials.  Public health lab directors will also be required to attend board meetings and participate in cooperative efforts with other health facilities and government departments.  Some public labs are located on academic campuses, and this may require that you also allow and supervise student and intern training.

Education And Training

Public health lab directors are able to gain employment with a four year Bachelor’s degree, although many candidates may also have a graduate degree.  The education track for this line of work would include biology, chemistry, lab techniques, and related sciences.  If you are pursuing this position with a four year degree, then you will also need to complete at least a one year supervised internship in lab protocols.  Master’s candidates will often have this as part of their course of study, but may also need to perform further experiential training. 

Certification is required for the position of public health lab director, and this may be acquired through examination with the state board of health.  In order to maintain this credential, you will also need to attend continuing education classes.  Along with this certification, you will need to demonstrate aptitude in knowledge of current regulations for public lab protocols.

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Public health lab directors have a fairly high starting salary.  Entry level applicants can make around $54,000 per year.  The median range of wages for this line of work is around $87,000 and the top 10% for pay is over $150,000.  This offers a good starting point if you are just beginning in this job, but also gives you ample room to advance.

Job openings for public health lab directors are also on the rise, and it is expected that this trend will continue over at least the next decade as the promotion of public health services becomes a national focus.  Current projections are looking at close to 73,000 jobs being created, and this represents a 23% increase in employment for this field.  If you are just starting out as a public health lab director or if you are looking to grow your career, positions and opportunities are quite positive in the public health sector.

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