How Do I Become a Laboratory Analyst?

Research what it takes to become a laboratory analyst. Learn about education requirements, job duties, the median salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Laboratory Analyst?

Laboratory analysts, also known as chemical technicians, work in scientific laboratories, where they assist researchers in conducting experiments, analyzing results and preparing reports. They are also responsible for equipment installation, maintenance and troubleshooting. Depending on the kind of lab in which they work, they may contribute to basic science research or applied engineering research geared toward the development of new materials, medicines and/or devices.

Below is a table that lists some key requirements for becoming a laboratory analyst, as well as job growth and salary statistics.

Degree Required Associate's degree at minimum; bachelor's degree preferred by some employers
Education Field of Study Chemical technology or applied science
Other Requirements Work experience and/or on-the-job training; biohazard safety training
Key Responsibilities Set up chemical experiments, sterilize equipment, compile data and write technical reports
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for all chemical technicians
Median Salary (2015)*$44,660 for all chemical technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Work Do Laboratory Analysts Perform?

Laboratory analysts are also called chemical or laboratory technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these workers use special techniques and instruments to assist scientists and engineers in researching, developing and creating new products (www.bls.gov). As a laboratory analyst, you will conduct chemical laboratory tests by setting up chemical experiments and following standardized formulas. Additional duties include sterilizing equipment, compiling data and writing technical reports. Career opportunities may be available in testing laboratories, research and development (R&D), pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing, chemical manufacturing and colleges and universities.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

To become a laboratory analyst, the BLS states that you will need to earn at least an associate's degree in chemical technology or applied science from an accredited community college, university or technical school. However, job postings from Monster.com in April 2012 showed that some employers may prefer that applicants for laboratory analyst positions earn a bachelor's degree in these fields.

Chemical technology courses include general chemistry, organic chemistry, chemical analysis and instrument-based analysis methods. Proficiency in English, writing and computer science is necessary for preparing your reports and other documents.

What Else Might I Need?

In addition to earning a degree, many prospective employers require applicants to have experience in the field. Experience requirements may be anywhere from 1-5 years, depending on the employer. This experience may be obtained through an internship or assistant position. Many companies will also provide on-the-job training to help you learn about specific protocols used in their laboratories.

Because you will be working in a laboratory with hazardous chemicals, you may need to obtain training in biohazard safety. Having good manual dexterity and hand and eye coordination, as well as a mature, professional attitude and organizational skills, is necessary for success in this field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to focus your career on medicine-related laboratory work, you could consider becoming a medical laboratory technician or technologist. These lab workers run analytical experiments on patient blood and tissue samples, for either diagnostic or academic research purposes. Technicians only need an associate's degree, while technologists require a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, a forensic science technician job would also make sense if you want to work in a lab where your findings would have direct real-world implications. Forensic science technicians analyze chemical and biological specimens for criminal investigations. They usually need a bachelor's degree in order to get a job.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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