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Core Laboratory Worker Compensation Highest at Mass Spectrometry Facilities: Staffing Survey

by | Jun 1, 2023 | Essential, Inside the Lab Industry-lir, Laboratory Industry Report

Recent survey provides insight into how current pressures are impacting laboratory staff wages and compensation.

The current state of lab staffing is a paradox. On the one hand, falling demand for COVID-19 testing has forced some lab companies to restructure and cut staff to reduce costs.1 At the same time, labs are struggling to recruit and retain qualified people for director, technician, testing personnel, and other skilled positions. A recent survey from the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) sheds some light on how all of this is affecting core lab staff wages and compensation, particularly at small academic labs.2

The ABRF Survey

ABRF is a trade association for lab administrators with roughly 1,500 members who represent more than 340 labs in the private, academic, and government sectors.3 This is the first time that ABRF has published a core lab staff salary survey. The survey’s purpose, according to the organization, is to enable members “to determine how competitive their salary and benefits programs are within their region and among similar size institutions.”2

Conducted between September and December 2022, the survey contains data on 174 individual core facilities in 26 different states, including the fiscal year 2021 compensation of:

  • Core directors
  • Core managers
  • Staff scientists
  • Core administrators
  • Research staff (entry-level/intermediate/senior)
  • Bioinformaticians

Most of the respondents were from the academic sector, and 92 percent of the facilities surveyed had fewer than 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. In addition to salary, the ABRF survey addresses health, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits, as well as incentives and deferred compensation. The survey analyzes the data by specialty and geographic region.

Mass Spec and Bioinformatics Labs Pay the Most

The survey found significant variances in compensation levels based on specialty, technology, and research specialty. Thus, core lab personnel working in mass spectrometry facilities had the highest median annual salaries, and flow cytometry lab workers had the lowest. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Mass spectrometry: $102,981
  • Bioinformatics: $95,706
  • Genomics: $75,745
  • Animal model: $67,250
  • Flow cytometry: $66,560

Compensation by Specialty, Technology, or Research Specialty

Source: Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities, “Inaugural ABRF Compensation Survey Report.” Accessed May 2023. Credit: G2 Intelligence

As you’d expect, job title and position were also major factors in median pay:

  • Laboratory research operations directors: $137,208
  • Assistant directors: $105,220
  • Senior staff scientists: $98,571
  • Bioinformaticians: $96,142
  • Core managers: $92,147
  • Administrators: $80,913
  • Entry-level staff research professionals: $52,012

Compensation by Job Title and Position

A blue and grey bar graph showing core lab worker compensation based on job title and position.
Source: Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities, “Inaugural ABRF Compensation Survey Report.” Accessed May 2023. Credit: G2 Intelligence

Compensation by Geographic Region

Geographically, core labs in Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC, reported the highest median pay levels at $101,280. However, that number may have been skewed due to the low number of respondents from that region. Other median pay levels by geographic region:

  • Northeast: $88,400
  • Midwest: $80,000
  • International: $61,670 (number may be impacted by the low number of international respondents)

In addition to omitting key regions like the West, these numbers are somewhat inconsistent with US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. While BLS data also found that the Northeast pays the best, with four of the five states with the highest 2022 annual mean salaries for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians located in this region, salary averages were much lower. However, this may be due to differing job titles and the aforementioned low number of Northeast-based respondents to the ABRF survey:4

  • New York: $ 76,110
  • Connecticut: $ 73,960
  • Oregon: $ 73,020
  • New Hampshire: $ 72,870
  • New Jersey: $ 70,100


In addition to the compensation data, the new ABRF survey includes questions that offer a qualitative, narrative perspective of the current state of the market for qualified lab workers. One of the key findings is that competition for lab talent has intensified moving out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, 72 percent of respondents said they believe the market is much more or somewhat more competitive than it was before the pandemic. And despite the recent wave of layoffs in the lab industry, 80 percent said they expect staffing levels at their own facilities to grow or at least remain the same during the coming year.


  1. https://www.g2intelligence.com/a-timeline-of-2023-lab-company-layoffs-so-far/
  2. https://www.abrf.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=189:abrf-compensation-survey-report&catid=20:site-content
  3. https://www.abrf.org/mission
  4. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292010.htm

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