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Biotechnician: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a biotechnician. Learn about degree requirements, job responsibilities and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

What is a Biotechnician?

Biotechnicians work closely with scientists and medical doctors to run experiments and laboratory tests to aid in a variety of breakthroughs from chemical mixtures to surgical equipment. They could work on new discoveries and advancements in life science. These full-time positions require you to work in hospital labs or university research centers and prefer bachelor's degrees. The following table presents some specifics regarding this career:

Degree Required Associate's or Bachelor's degree; Master's degree recommended for leadership roles
Education Field of Study Biology, chemistry
Key Responsibilities Research, work in a laboratory setting, test biological substances
Certification Short-term certificate program (in conjunction with an associate's degree or as specialized training)
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% growth*
Median Salary (2018) $44,500*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Biotechnician Do?

A biotechnician, or biological technician, works with biologists and other scientists on solving scientific problems dealing with living organisms. Biotechnology combines biology with aspects of chemistry, engineering and computer science. As a biotechnician, you could help scientists find a cure for AIDS or assist with the development of the next wonder drug. Biotechnicians work in laboratory settings and often perform tests on blood or other biological substances. Biotechnology research has also resulted in improvements in the use of DNA and in the food we grow.

How Do I Prepare for This Career?

A variety of educational programs exist to prepare you for different stages in your career in biological technology. For example, associate's degree, certificate and bachelor's degree programs can prepare you for entry-level work in the field. Shorter-term certificate programs can be completed in conjunction with an associate's degree or as specialized training for people with degrees in unrelated areas. Master's degree programs in biotechnology provide education and training for technicians who want to move into leadership roles as scientists. Preparation can start in high school by developing skills and an aptitude in math and science.

What Will I Study?

Associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs in biotechnology include general education classes in addition to courses in math, science, microbiology and genetics. Programs also include plenty of opportunities for hands-on lab work. Certificate programs also include laboratory work, in addition to intensive coursework in biology, chemistry and biotechnology techniques. Other topics you might explore in a biotechnology program include these:

  • Genomics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Zoology
  • Cell culture

How Is The Pay?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary for biological technicians was $44,500 in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). PayScale.com reported in September 2019 that the hourly pay for biological technicians ranged between $12.64 and $20.63. Biological technicians are expected to be moderately in demand in the coming years, with the BLS having predicted a 7% growth in jobs during the 2018-2028 decade.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative careers with an associate's degree could be agricultural or food science technicians who assist food scientists with measurements and analysis of the quality of foods. Another could be as environmental science or protection technicians who work with pollution and contamination that could affect the public's health. With a bachelor's degree, you could have a career as a geoscientist or forensic science technician. Geoscientists study the composition and structure of the Earth, while forensic technicians aid in the collection of criminal evidence for law enforcement.