Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.
What they do
Biological technicians typically do the following:
- Set up, maintain, and clean laboratory instruments and equipment, such as microscopes, scales, pipets, and test tubes
- Gather and prepare biological samples, such as blood, food, and bacteria cultures, for laboratory analysis
- Conduct biological tests and experiments
- Document their work, including procedures, observations, and results
- Analyze experimental data and interpret results
- Write reports that summarize their findings
Biological technicians, sometimes called laboratory assistants, typically are responsible for doing scientific tests, experiments, and analyses under the supervision of biologists (such as microbiologists) or medical scientists who direct and evaluate their work. Biological technicians use traditional laboratory instruments, advanced robotics, and automated equipment to conduct experiments. They use specialized computer software to collect, analyze, and model experimental data. Some biological technicians, such as those who assist the work of zoologists and wildlife biologists, may collect samples in the field, so they may need the ability to hike rugged terrain or otherwise travel through wilderness areas.
Biological technicians work in many research areas. They may assist medical researchers by administering new medicines and treatments to laboratory animals. They may separate proteins from other cell material, and analyze data from an experiment.
Biological technicians working in a microbiological context typically study living microbes and perform techniques specific to microbiology, such as staining specimens to aid identification.
Biological technicians also may work in private industry and assist in the study of a wide range of topics concerning industrial production. They may test samples in environmental impact studies, or monitor production processes to help ensure that products are not contaminated.
Biological technicians typically work in laboratories and offices, where they conduct experiments and analyze the results under the supervision of biological scientists and medical scientists. Some biological technicians who do fieldwork may be exposed to weather events and wildlife, such as mosquitoes.
Biological technicians must follow strict procedures to avoid contaminating the experiment, themselves, or the environment. Some experiments may involve dangerous organisms or toxic substances.
Biological technicians work together on teams under the direction of biologists or other scientists.
How to become a Biological Technician
Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. Although it is less common, some positions may be available to those with less than a bachelor’s degree. It is important for prospective biological technicians to gain laboratory experience while they are in school.
Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. Most colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in the biological sciences. Some positions may be available to associate degree holders or those without a degree but who have biological laboratory experience.
The median annual wage for biological technicians was $45,860 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,350.
Employment of biological technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Greater demand for biological and medical research is expected to increase the need for these workers.
Biotechnology research plays a key role in scientific advancements that improve people’s quality of life. One new area of biotechnology, synthetic biology, will employ biological technicians in attempts to redesign biological systems or living organisms to produce useful things, such as chemicals, in more efficient ways than are currently used. New applications of biotechnology may be the subject of research topics ranging from new ways to produce biofuels to providing new treatments for diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Similar Job Titles
Biological Science Laboratory Technician, Biological Science Technician, Biological Technician, Laboratory Technician, Marine Fisheries Technician, Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Specialist, Research Technician, Wildlife Biology Technician
Agricultural Technician, Food Science Technician, Chemical Technician, Geophysical Data Technician, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry
- American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
- American Chemical Society
- American Fisheries Society
- American Institute of Biological Sciences
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- American Society for Microbiology
- Association of Genetic Technologists
- Botanical Society of America
Magazines and Publications
- The Scientist Magazine
- Quanta Magazine
- Lab Management Today Magazine
- Science Focus Magazine
- Scientific American
- Science Daily
- Smithsonian Magazine
Biological technicians may be involved in projects from groundbreaking research to cure a devastating disease to sequencing DNA evidence that can help solve a criminal case. These technicians assist biological and medical scientists. They're found in biotechnology companies and at medical and research facilities. They may work for the government or for private firms that make food products or pharmaceuticals. They set up, operate, and maintain laboratory equipment used in experiments and production. This increasingly includes working with robots, computer-interfaced tools, and electronic devices. The work usually involves living organisms or organic matter such as food, blood, or infectious substances. Biological technicians often need to wear protective gear while handling and analyzing specimens. They monitor experiments and keep careful records that they later use to write detailed reports. Technicians often work in teams or under the close supervision of a more experienced scientist. Most technicians have a bachelor’s degree, although some entry level positions require only an associate’s degree, often in a biology-related program. Excellent math and communication skills and higher-level coursework can help a technician advance to the position of technologist. This is a career where your efforts could be part of a scientific breakthrough that improves lives all over the world.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org