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 collecting and analyzing patients’ samples, communicating obtained results to Laboratory Supervisors and Physicians, organizing and maintaining lab tools and equipment, recording data, 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, in which case, they must present reports on their job.
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, testing samples, gathering data, and carrying out the basic investigations that are allocated to them:
- Taking blood, fluid, and tissue samples from patients when required;
- 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, requesting all relevant information from patients, when necessary;
- preparing, cataloging, and identifying biological samples for examination or storage; and
- assisting supervisors and Physicians in laboratory related activities when required.
- 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:
- Following health regulations and procedures when directly handling blood and fluid samples, as well as chemicals that could be hazardous.
- 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 in USA is $40,503 per year or $21 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $28,000 while most experienced workers make up to $57,000. These results are based on 1,621 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.
- Continual focus on safety:
- Wearing respirator masks, goggles, gloves, as well as any other safety equipment.
- Trustworthy enough to manage sensitive/confidential information.
- Physically fit:
- Being able to stand for long periods of time.
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 an Associate's Degree or Certificate in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering, or any other related scientific area. However, candidates who already have a field-related degree can simply apply to a certificate program in any authorized health institution. In this case, the training will only last one (1) year. Further studies and accreditations from a recognized institution, such as The American Medical Technologists (AMT), can greatly benefit aspirants as those can increase their chances of being assigned positions with more responsibilities and better compensations. Moreover, depending on the state’s jurisdiction, Lab Technicians may need to get licensed. The requirements to do so can vary from state to state.
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 full-time basis. However, some institutions and companies may require some of their employees to work extra hours, on holidays, or to remain on call during late hours.