Dilworth bactitech at hortonsbay.com
Sat Feb 24 01:19:10 EST 2001

As far as salaries go, a medical technologist (in micro and in other
parts of the clinical laboratory) in our geographic area, with
experience, makes about $21-22/hour (top of our scale was just raised to
$23), with new graduates starting in the $16-18/hour range.  To do
clinical microbiology in a hospital laboratory, you almost have to have
your M.T. certification, ASCP (American Society of Clinical
Pathologists) being the most common, but there are others.  

There is starting to be a national shortage of M.T.'s, which can either
be a B.S. of M.T. degree (three years, with the fourth year being
internship and clinical lab work only) or a four year degree with a
science undergrad, and then a year's worth of clinical studies.  I have
a B.A. in Biology, then did my year's internship and lecture work.  That
was back in 1974.  There are not nearly as many places training M.T.'s
now, hence the looming shortage in 10 years or so.  The average age of a
M.T. in the U.S. is 49-50 years of age.  I figure with my micro
experience I'll be able to work for as long as I want, or as long as my
eyes hold out (those colonies get pretty small :-)).

No, the pay is not where it is with computers.  It can't help but go up
as there will be higher demand (with all the baby boomers hitting the
hospitals in about 15-20 years) and low supply (with all the baby boomer
techs retiring in 10-15 years).  I've received two raises in a year and
will receive another in October.  Management is doing this to retain the
techs we have, as there aren't a lot of them out there floating around. 
Most techs that want to work are working.

Tell me Kevin, do you enjoy computers more than looking at bugs?  I'm
married to a systems programmer (he's been in the field for about 15
years now) and have obviously seen the down sides to that profession
(long hours, being on call for systems that crash, pressure to bring up
the system when there are mechanical problems you can't do anything
about........we were awakened three times the other night by a computer
operator who didn't follow procedures that my husband had written to
bring stuff back up after a shut down - this guy was even provided
PICTURES of the equipment with arrows showing what buttons to push, and
he still had to call our house because apparently he doesn't like to
read the manuals).

I personally like looking at the reactions, figuring out the puzzles,
and coordinating it all with the patient's disease.  I like computers,
too, but don't like the "innards" of their workings.  I leave that to my
husband.  He has now specialized in building and working with
interfaces, and built the interface that connects my micro department
with the hospital he's working for, as they send all their micro to our
place now.  With your understanding of laboratory stuff, you might find
you enjoy computer work in a lab or hospital setting.  My husband and I
met at my first job in a micro lab.  He was setting up micro specimens
and making media on 3-11; back then a willingness to work was the only
prerequisite (early 70's).  He worked there part time for about 3
years.  This background proved very valuable when the interfaces for
micro were set up last year; his boss was amazed that he understood
micro's reporting needs and the culture requirements - how acid fast and
fungus cultures are held 6-8 weeks and how this hold-up could affect
results reporting, etc.  Don't discount your lab experience; it may come
in handy someday. 

Judy Dilworth, M.T. (ASCP)

kevinhayes at mail.utexas.edu wrote:
> I received my degree in Microbiology from UT Austin in May '97.  It's
> not whether we're using our degrees but I think your question really
> is-can you make any money with a degree in Microbiology.  The answer
> is-it depends on where you are.  There are jobs out there-I never had
> a problem finding a job using my degree.  Since 1997, I've worked in 4
> different labs and all using my degree directly.  Here in Texas, right
> out of school, you'll probably start off anywhere from $9/hr to
> $15/hr.  Actually, $15/hr is hard to come by.  If you started off at
> Texa Dept. of Health, as a Microbiologist 1 (entry level) you'll make
> about $11/hr.  I've known people to go and work for Texas Natural
> Resource Conservation Commission and they'll get a salary of
> $28,000/yr to $30,000/yr.  I also know people with Masters Degrees
> making $13-$15/hr or up to $30,000/yr.  If you plan on working in the
> field of Microbiology, then you need to plan on getting more than a
> Bachelors or be willing to relocate.  As for me, I worked in two
> different labs in my first year out of school (a clinical pathology
> lab and an allergy lab (bacteriology)), then instead of going to get my
> Masters, I went and got a second Bachelors in Computer Science.  I
> don't regret anything.  I graduate in July and I just got my first
> offer two days ago and it was for $54,000/yr.  Not too bad.  You have
> to realize how long it would take to get that salary with a
> Microbiology degree-it would take awhile!

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