One of the most important members of a research laboratory team are Laboratory Technicians. They are in charge of a variety of tasks and responsibilities such as the organization and maintenance of lab tools and equipment, data recording, as well as ensuring efficiency and accuracy when conducting scientific experiments and research.
Laboratory Technicians can take in a wide range of roles within the laboratory team depending on their area of expertise. They may work in several branches of scientific research and development, such as Chemistry, Physics, and Biology and may be employed by companies of various areas, including Forensics, Cosmetics, Manufacturing, and Pharmacology. Depending on the field, Technicians may work independently or under the direction of a professional.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Laboratory Technicians are required to complete.
- Adjusting, calibrating, and ensuring the effective functioning of laboratory instruments and equipment:
- Disinfecting and cleaning the equipment and working area; and
- ensuring the laboratory is well-stocked and resourced with sufficient supplies.
- Conducting experiments, gathering data, and carrying out the basic investigations that are allocated to them:
- Preparing and conducting chemical and biological analyses, among others, as directed by the laboratory supervisor; and
- using specialized laboratory equipment and machinery when conducting experiments, taking and examining samples, and running scientific procedures.
- Providing assistance in all procedures, from sample taking and testing to examining outcomes and experiments:
- Performing sample receipt functions as per laboratory protocols and assigning identification numbers to said samples; and
- preparing, cataloguing, and identifying biological samples for examination or storage.
- Testing procedures and practices to ensure the veracity of resulting information.
- Maintaining detailed and accurate records of research findings; writing reports, reviews, and summaries:
- Entering test results into a database, ensuring that all information is both current and accurate.
- Ensuring health, safety, and security procedures are followed, as well as the company’s standards.
- Keeping up-to-date with scientific trends and innovations, especially those that have to do with their line of work and daily assignments.
- Studying and analyzing biological and chemical processes, among others.
- Adjusting, calibrating, and ensuring the effective functioning of laboratory instruments and equipment.
- Preparing samples and specimens for use in their work.
- Performing scientific experiments, running tests, and analyzing results.
- Recording, storing, and analyzing test and experiment results for later study.
- Writing and presenting tests and experiments results to employers and colleagues.
The average Laboratory Technician salary is $47,234 per year or $24 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $33,000 while most experienced workers make up to $66,000. These results are based on 156 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding hand-eye coordination and the ability to use technical equipment with accuracy.
- Knowledge of Good Laboratory Practices (GLP).
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with co-workers in the laboratory;
- being able to read and write technical reports; and
- being able to work cohesively as part of a team and provide support to different team members.
- Analytical and critical-thinking skills:
- Being precise and accurate in their analyses, since errors could invalidate their research.
- Organizational and time management skills and meticulous attention to detail:
- Avoiding disorganization in the workplace that can lead to legal problems, damage to equipment, and toxic spills;
- carrying out routine tasks accurately and following strict methodologies to perform the corresponding analyses;
- being able to work on several different projects at the same time;
- being able to work in a fast-paced environment; and
- being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities accordingly.
Laboratory Technicians, like most scientific professionals, require extensive preparation in order to work due to the importance of detail, precision, and accuracy in their jobs. The most basic requirement for a Laboratory Technician is to possess a college or university degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering, or any other related scientific area. Obtaining a diploma in any of these fields may take at least 3 years of theoretical preparation and supervised practices. Further studies and accreditation, such a master’s or doctorate degree, are greatly encouraged as they can increase an applicant’s chances of being assigned positions with more responsibilities and better compensations.
The Canadian Society for Chemical Technology (CSCT) offers certification and membership to all professionals working in the chemical field. Membership in the CSCT includes invitation to national symposiums and conferences, as well as access to all new publications and news on the field. The CSCT also assists members on the registration with their respective provincial or territorial regulatory bodies.
The schedule of a Laboratory Technician usually varies depending on their work setting. When working in research and development facilities it is common for them to work on a regular 9 to 5 setting. However, some institutions and companies may require some of their employees to work extra hours or to remain on call during late hours.