Science lab technicians most often work in laboratory settings performing tests and carrying out tasks related to research. Depending on the type of technician, they perform these tests on human and animal tissue, plant tissue, infectious microbes and many other materials. While not holding lead positions in labs and research protocol, they play a critical role in research and development that leads to significant advances for society.
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Science lab technicians usually need education beyond a high school diploma. Most positions require at least an associate's degree or a certification in some aspect of science. Those working in biological laboratories that handle forensic samples or biohazardous human or animal samples must almost always hold a bachelor of Science degree in a related field. Those interested in a career as a science lab technician should prepare for the required higher education by taking many science and math courses in high school.
Several subtypes of science lab technicians exist to choose from when planning a career path. Biological technicians work under the leadership of a biologist to research living organisms. Chemical technicians assist in the development of new chemical mixes and equipment for delivery of these solutions. Agricultural and food science technicians perform tests, research and development of food and agricultural products. Forensic science technicians evaluate evidence collected at crime scenes to help in crime investigations.
Science technicians must have the knowledge and skill necessary to operate and maintain sophisticated laboratory equipment and properly execute experiments. They must then collect sufficient and relevant data from the results to draw conclusions and produce a report to be given to the lead scientist for review. Other requirements include keeping detailed records of experiments, outcomes, procedural successes and failures, as well as all materials used and in what proportions.
Income and Outlook
As of 2008, science lab technicians could expect wages ranging from £9 to £20 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth for science technicians was expected to follow that of other occupations with increase of employment of 12 per cent from 2008 to 2018. The demand for new product research and development was seen stimulating employment in this field.
A career in the field of science technician can be exciting and extremely rewarding; however, hours can be long and irregular. Labs often operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Technicians will be expected to work shifts that may be undesirable to some, especially newly hired, inexperienced ones. Those not willing to "do the time," working the second or third shift, should pursue other careers.
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