You may have noticed that from mid-2020 to early 2021, the laboratory job market — and histotech and pathologists’ assistant salary and wages — went suddenly white-hot.
If working during the pandemic was an option for you, this was an exciting chance to consider new career opportunities. The pandemic fueled an unusual and surprising spike in the contract wages and salaries offered for open positions. These circumstances happened for a few unique reasons, including:
Closures or limited personnel in the lab, which created bottlenecks
Laboratory mergers and acquisitions
A re-opening economy that opened the floodgates of backed-up work
Many labs needed help faster than workers were rejoining the workforce
Some employers were bidding up wages to compete for talent
Now that the U.S. economy has reopened more broadly, it’s a relief to see that this stressful rush for pathology labs has finally started to settle down. Teams are more adequately staffed than during the height of the pandemic and labs are at last catching up with current patient and research needs. As a result, compensation has also gradually returned to normal in 2022.
Histotech and Pathologists’ Assistant Salary & Wages in 2021 Were Not Traditional
Economic research director Nick Bunker explained to CNBC in late April that “Wages aren’t growing at the rate they were for large chunks of last year.” According to the wage compression data Bunker has reviewed, “It’s a signal that some of these gains and the bargaining power workers had because of the extraordinary circumstances of last year aren’t permanent. They’re not enduring parts of the labor market.”
It’s important not to be caught by surprise by this normalizing market. From the beginning, the significant surge in wages and salary for lab roles was not traditional; it was a temporary situation that has naturally resolved itself as our economy recovers and the workforce returns.
What to Expect in the Lab in 2022 and Beyond
It seems unlikely at this point — unless a devastating new variant emerges — that elective surgeries will close down again or that histotechs and pathologists’ assistants will need to stay home from work for extended stretches. This means that the atypical PA and histotech salary and wage levels from the height of the pandemic have finished their cycle. We should expect, moving forward, that open roles in the lab will return to their normal place in a healthy market.
However, this should not be taken to mean that today’s opportunities are any worse than yesterday’s. A competitive total level of compensation is always within reach for candidates seeking open roles with the right employers and recruiters. Wages and salaries may have normalized, but staffing agencies like Nicklas Medical Staffing have always offered (and will continue to offer) well-rounded compensation packages.