Scientific laboratory technicians are vital to the overall framework of scientific research and development activities. Primarily employed by pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organisations and academic research institutes, scientific lab technicians are responsible for ensuring the smooth and uninterrupted functionality of laboratory facilities and scientific equipment.
Lab technicians also set up experiments, gather data and carry out the basic investigations that are allocated to them. These guys also support senior scientists by maintaining detailed and accurate records of research findings and making sure that instruments are accurately calibrated, as well as ensuring that health and safety procedures are adhered to.
Salary & benefits
Entry-level salaries for new laboratory technicians range between £15,000 and £20,000 per annum, while senior technicians with over five years’ experience and managerial responsibilities can earn between £20,000 and £45,000 a year.
Working hours are generally fixed on a standard nine-to-five basis.
Some labs, though, especially those in healthcare facilities, work on a 24/7 basis, and lab technicians are therefore required to work in shifts throughout the week.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to enter this profession, and therefore this is a great way for young people to break into the exciting world of scientific research.
Some employers may require applicants to have a scientific degree. However, many positions will simply require you to have A-levels in science subjects, such as biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics.
Training & progression
Developing your knowledge and practical experience of standard lab procedures, health and safety issues and data collection and analysis will form the essential elements of your ‘on-the-job’ training. Formal training schemes for this line of work are very rare indeed.
Obtaining degrees or vocational qualifications through part-time study can lead to better job prospects and progression into more senior research and development roles. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for laboratory technicians to eventually become full-blown scientists.