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Scientific laboratory technician: job description

Scientific laboratory technician: job description

Scientific laboratory technicians assist staff and support laboratory-based investigations by undertaking a range of routine technical and experimental tasks.
You don't need a science degree to become a technician – but you will need a logical mind and good communication skills.

What does a laboratory technician do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

The work is almost entirely laboratory-based and technicians may work alone or as part of a team of scientific staff. The role includes conducting and supporting scientific investigations and experiments, as well as collecting and testing samples, writing reports and working alongside other scientific staff.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • conducting and supporting scientific investigations
  • planning, setting up and undertaking controlled experiments and trials
  • recording and analysing data
  • demonstrating procedures
  • collecting, preparing and/or testing samples
  • maintaining equipment
  • providing technical support
  • presenting results to senior staff
  • writing reports, reviews and summaries
  • keeping up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments
  • supervising staff
  • carrying out risk assessments
  • ordering and maintaining stock and resources

Typical employers of laboratory technicians

  • Environmental agencies
  • Specialist research organisations or consultancies
  • Universities
  • Hospitals
  • The Civil Service
  • Water companies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Chemical companies

Early applications are recommended for opportunities with major employers. Vacancies are advertised by recruitment agencies and careers services, in newspapers, in relevant scientific publications such as New Scientist, Science, Nature and Laboratory News and their online equivalents and in journals published by the professional institutions.

Qualifications and training required

A science degree is not always necessary, although good qualifications in appropriate scientific subjects (for example, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, life/medical/physical sciences) will be advantageous. Relevant practical laboratory work experience can also be beneficial.

To find out about how you can get into this career via a school leaver route(eg an apprenticeship or a school leaver training programme), see the science section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for laboratory technicians

  • Independence
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Good teamworking skills
  • Analytical skills
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