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Biology Lab Technician: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for biology lab technicians. Get the facts about education requirements, job duties, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is a Biology Laboratory Technician?

As a biology laboratory technician, you'd work alongside biologists to assist with their research. You will help conduct a variety of experiments and lab tests. Biology laboratory technicians typically are responsible for preparing and cleaning equipment prior to use. They also collect biological samples to be analyzed. These professionals must take excellent notes to document their process and results. They then interpret the findings and present them in reports. Biology laboratory technicians may work for the government or different organizations in the private sector. The following chart gives an overview of what you need to know to enter this profession.

Degree Required Associate's degree; bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Associate's: laboratory technician; bachelor's: biology, forensic science, chemistry
Key Skills Collect, test & analyze biological samples; write reports; maintain lab equipment
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% growth*
Average Salary (2018) $48,060*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need for a Career as a Biology Laboratory Technician?

You will find the training you need at technical institutes, community colleges and universities. Technical schools may offer 1-year certificate and 2-year associate's degree programs. You'll also find 2-year associate degree laboratory technician programs at some community colleges.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers prefer to hire biology laboratory technicians who have acquired a bachelor's degree in biology, forensic science or another area of natural science such as chemistry or physics (www.bls.gov). If you choose to enroll in an associate's degree program, be certain that the credits are easily transferable to a bachelor's degree program at a college or university. Your education will consist of classes such as zoology, botany, human physiology and anatomy, forensic biology, mortuary science and ecology.

What Will My Job Duties Consist Of?

As a biology laboratory technician, you may collect and examine bodily fluids for evidence of cholesterol, glucose or potassium to help diagnose medical conditions. You will prepare and inspect your samples, then write reports on your findings. Some of your research may involve determining the levels of chemicals in foods. You'll use your skills to troubleshoot, maintain and set up laboratory equipment. Computers and even robotics will assist you in performing your daily duties. Depending upon where you work, your duties might also include conducting cancer research and studying contagious microbes.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The BLS estimated that biology technicians working in the scientific research industry averaged approximately $50,630 annually in May 2018. Professionals in the medicine and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries earned an average salary of $52,420. Employees of colleges and universities were paid an average of $47,070 annually.

What Other Jobs Will I Qualify For?

Although some additional study may be required, a biology degree might also allow you to pursue a career as a laboratory manager, field biologist, animal nutritionist or biophysicist. You could put your training to use in a farming or forestry environment, or become a research technician or a forensic service technician. Veterinarian and bacteriologist are other options.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Chemical technicians, environmental science technicians and protection technicians are some related positions that require an associate's degree. Chemical technicians assist chemists and/or chemical engineers testing and creating chemical products. Environmental science and protection technicians work to monitor and protect various aspects of the environment. Forensic science technicians are also related, but need a bachelor's degree. These technicians collect and analyze samples from crime scenes.