American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities for PhD Trainees in Laboratory Medicine
Presented by Christopher McCudden, PhD

SYCL Job Information

The following information is intended as an aid for new and junior clinical laboratory professionals when seeking to navigate employment negotiations and should not be considered as a complete list but rather a guideline of questions to ask.

  1. What is the work environment: industry, academia, clinical (hospital or reference lab)
  2. What is the title of your supervisor? Who is responsible for your performance evaluations/promotions?
  3. What position is being offered?
    What career mobility options are there? How do you advance in the current system?

  4. Does the position come with an academic appointment?
    None, Lecturer/Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor

  5. What is the Salary?
  6. How will the salary be paid?
    100% by hospital/employer, 100% by university, paid in part by grants/external funding, other

  7. What benefits are offered?
    • Health Insurance
    • Dental Insurance
    • Vision Insurance
    • Group Life Insurance
    • Short-term Disability Insurance
    • Long-term Disability Insurance
    • Retirement Plan
    • Pension Plan
    • 401K or 403B (matching funds?)
    • Malpractice Insurance
    • Workers comp/occupational health
    • Travel Insurance
    • Cost of living adjustments in salary
    • Other

  8. Bonus(es):
    • Paid Vacation Days: how many weeks
    • Paid Holidays: how many days
    • Education and Travel Allowances: how much
    • Number of Professional trip days allowed
    • Board Exams (if not yet completed):
                - Will the employer pay for exam fees:
                - Will employer provide protected study time?
                - Will employer pay for board review course(s)
  9. If research is expected:
    • What are the publication and grant expectations?
    • Will dedicated lab space be provided?
    • Will lab start up funds for research be provided?
    • Is there ample accessibility to clinical/basic research collaborators?
    • Will research and development staff be provided?

  10. What is the expected workweek: 40, 50, 60 hours?
    • Is weekend and Holiday coverage required?
    • What are the Call duties: Weekday, weekend, and holidays?
    • Is comp time offered for working weekends and/or holidays?

  11. Will you have human resource type responsibilities or will you have managers that will handle these aspects?
  12. Will they offer to help with moving and relocation costs?
  13. How is your time to be divided: % clinical, % development, % research, % teaching
  14. How can you become a contributing member of the local clinical laboratory professional community?
  15. Will involvement in national and local professional organizations be supported by the department (is this recognized as an important part of your job)? 


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has published a collection of advice, experiences and opinions from seasoned biomedical investigators and other professionals as a practical guide for postdocs and new faculty.

The publication, Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty, may be read on-line or downloaded. The document is 250 pages, therefore you may want to scroll through it first or pick and choose as you like. Chapter titles are: obtaining and negotiating a faculty position and planning for tenure; the scientific investigator within the university structure; defining and implementing your mission; staffing your laboratory; mentoring and being mentored; time management; project management; data management and laboratory notebooks; getting funded; getting published and increasing your visibility; understanding technology transfer; setting up collaborations; and course in scientific management.

Board Exam
Preparing for a board exam? See the ABCC examinee survey!

SYCL Employment Survey
View the results of the October 2010 SYCL employment survey designed to gather information from new and junior clinical laboratory professionals with regards to the terms surrounding first/recently-acquired employment. SYCL hopes that you will find this information useful as you move forward in your careers.



Click here for a transcript of Christopher McCudden's video presentation.