Animal technologists work in research and development (R&D) laboratories, where animal species are used in experiments and product-testing procedures. If you choose to work in this area, your job title might also be ‘animal laboratory technician’.
Whatever your official title is though, you will essentially be tasked with the care, upkeep and maintenance of animal specimens, such as rats and rabbits, which are used in labs for medical and pharmaceutical research purposes.
You will take care of lab animals’ welfare, food, hygiene and health concerns in accordance with statutory and regulatory requirements. It’s also all about maintaining optimal lab environments that meet the requirements of the experiments that will be carried out.
Furthermore, you may be required to actively collect data, take samples and maintain detailed records of observations, lab protocols, conditions, experiment times and significant changes in animal behaviour or physiology.
Salary & benefits
Animal technologists tend to start in trainee positions, with annual salaries ranging between £10,000 and £15,000. Once you are qualified you could earn between £15,000 and £20,000 per annum.
Experienced technologists earn between £20,000 and £30,000, while technologists holding administrative and managerial responsibilities can earn up to £35,000 and beyond
Animal technologists usually work in shifts, manning labs on a 24/7 basis, since taking care of lab animals is a full-time job.
Work is mainly lab-based and technologists need to ensure that appropriate safety and security measures are adhered to when dealing with biological waste, toxic substances and animals with infections or other ailments.
The academic requirements for animal technologist positions will vary depending on your employer; however, you don’t need a degree to break into this profession.
In fact, the minimum requirement for most positions is a handful of decent GCSEs (A-C grades), including maths, science and English.
Candidates with degrees, foundation degrees and HNDs in subjects, such as biology, zoology or animal welfare, may actually be successful in applications for more senior positions.
Training & progression
The training programme for entry-level animal technologists consists of gaining on-the-job experience and studying towards the successful completion of professional qualifications administered by the Institute of Animal Technology (IAT). These qualifications are split into three stages, all of which involve theoretical and practical aspects.
To carry out hands-on scientific research tasks as an animal technologist, you will also need to obtain an appropriate licence, which is issued by the Home Office.
As you progress in your career, you could move into team management or even begin to specialise in laboratory policy and protocol development.