If I were a man, I could be making up to $20,000 more per year, according to The Medical Laboratory Observer's 2013 annual salary survey, published March 2013. Granted, this study data was compiled from 379 MLO subscribers, a population which cannot possibly represent over 300,000 individuals who work in the profession currently. Most of the folks who return the survey had over 20 years of experience in the field, a bachelors degree, and were female. A good portion were also working in management. This should not come as a surprise, as most "bench techs" do not have time to fill out MLO surveys. Though I have a great amount of respect for the Medical Laboratory Observer, I understand the survey to be a representation of smaller clinical laboratory managers, not the average technician or technologists. If I want to know the truth about salary, I would have to look elsewhere.
My next search was with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Turns out, they do not break down salary by gender, number of years in the field or even age. Interestingly, government data does not suggest a shortage coming any time soon, either. What I am learning, however is that the median and average salaries are much higher for medical technologists. The difference is about $20,000. I am still not convinced as to the real reason behind this. According to CLIA regulations, the only thing an MLT with a two year degree is not qualified to do is in a clinical laboratory management position.
Without an acceptable source of survey data, the best conclusion that I can come to is that MTs are paid more because the organization is making an investment in MT who might one day become a leader in their organization. If you've ever worked in a laboratory, you know it's not because they work any faster than an MLT. It's definitely not because of any impending shortage. Though I have been personally hearing about fears of a "lot much grey in the lab" for about 5 years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts MT growth at 11%, which is below the 14% average growth of all occupations.
To be continued ..........................