CLS Salaries in California

Salinas is the highest-paying area in the country for clinical lab technologists.
Salinas is the highest-paying area in the country for clinical lab technologists. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Clinical laboratory scientists analyze body fluids and cells for evidence of disease. California requires CLS staff to be licensed. Becoming a licensed CLS in California requires obtaining a bachelor's degree with a certain number of credits in biology and chemistry, and completing a training internship and passing a written exam. California is a lucrative place for CLS personnel.


While California identifies these workers with the initials CLS, some states and employers call them clinical laboratory technologists or medical laboratory technologists. Of the roughly 166,860 of these scientists working in the United States in 2009, about 12,930 of them were employed in California, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest number in the state worked in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana area, with about 6,270 of these professionals in 2009. A large number also worked in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont area -- about 1,500.

Salary Range

California was the top-paying state for clinical laboratory scientists in 2009, with an average salary of $35.27 per hour, or $73,350 per year. Nevada ranked second at $67,550 per year. The California average pay rate for this profession was about 24 percent higher than the nationwide average of $55,620 per year. The middle 50 percent in California were making $30.07 to $40.95 per hour, or $62,540 to $85,170 per year. The top 10 percent had salaries of $98,130 per year and higher, and the bottom 10 percent were earning $50,020 and below.

Top-Paying Metro Areas

The top five highest-paying metropolitan areas were in California. Ranking first was Salinas, at $43.37 per hour on average, or $90,210 per year. Rounding out the top five were the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region at $86,440 per year, the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward region at $83,140, the Santa Cruz-Watsonville area at $82,510 and Stockton at $79,170.

Other High-Paying Regions

Although not ranking in the top five nationwide, other California locations also were profitable. These locations included the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta area, where the average salary was $78,680 per year; Modesto at $76,220; Chico at $75,940; and the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario region at $75,610. Two nonmetropolitan areas of California also had particularly high pay. These were the Mother Lode Region at $79,420 per year on average, and the Northern Mountains region at $76,380.

Other Regions

The lowest pay rates for CLS personnel in California on average were in the Hanford-Corcoran region at $56,470 per year, in the Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville area at $63,590 and the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles region at $63,710. CLS salaries in other parts of California were generally in the range of $66,000 to $75,000 per year.

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