Laboratory technicians do almost all of the hands-on work in scientific research, development, and analysis. One of the benefits of being a laboratory technician is being the first to see experimental outcomes, whether they are prize-winning projects or more routine medical exams.
The different types of jobs that laboratory technicians have and the skills and training required for those jobs can vary tremendously. For example, a laboratory technician working on a research project might operate an electron microscope, isolate DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), make behavioral observations of animals, monitor pharmaceutical effects in test subjects, or monitor environmental quality. In a clinical laboratory, a laboratory technician may examine blood samples for cell counts, examine tissue samples for parasites , or test fluids for chemical contaminants or drugs. In industrial production environments, laboratory technicians may conduct product quality tests and monitor product quality control. In all settings, laboratory technicians work with the most modern and sophisticated laboratory and computer equipment available. Potential employers include government and private research laboratories, universities, hospitals, and private industries. These employers may have research, development, clinical, forensic , or production-oriented objectives. With growth in technology, the job market for laboratory technicians is expected to expand.
Education and training for a laboratory technician is based in science and technology. Preparation in high school should include college preparatory courses that will support extensive college requirements for mathematics and science. Entry-level positions for laboratory technicians almost always require a two-year associate's or a four-year bachelor's degree in a scientific area (commonly biology, chemistry, physics, biotechnology, or natural resources). In some cases, a master's of science degree or professional certification program and exam must be completed. Almost all beginning laboratory technicians receive additional on-the-job training, and laboratory technicians should expect to continue updating their education and training as technology advances.
Michael G. Scott
U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. <http://stats.bls.gov/ocohome.htm> .