A biotechnology technician assists scientists in research or development in a variety of laboratory settings, using knowledge of molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and chemistry to conduct experiments. They are often responsible for the collection and preparation of samples that will be examined and tested. Following the conclusion of experiments, technicians record their data and contribute to the conclusions made about the findings.
The majority of biological technicians work full-time, keeping regular schedules. Very few work part-time. Work hours are shared between office and laboratory settings. Individuals who collect samples in the field may be exposed to injury or illness. All biological technicians must wear protective clothing and gear while conducting experiments.
Generally, biotechnology technician positions require a bachelor's degree and some laboratory experience. The following table contains the main qualifications and requirements needed to become a biotechnology technician from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Biology or comparable discipline|
|Experience||Laboratory experience is required before entering the workforce|
|Key Skills||Analytical, critical-thinking, communication, teamwork|
|Technical Skills||Knowledge of industry-specific equipment and instruments|
Step 1: Take Science Classes in High School
In order to become familiar with basic laboratory equipment, the BLS recommends a curriculum heavy in science and math courses. Additionally, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) advises students to investigate science careers and evaluate their education options by speaking with a high school guidance counselor. Taking courses in math, chemistry and physics prepare aspiring biotechnology students for the coursework that is to come in college.
Step 2: Earn a College Degree
According to the BLS, technicians in biology fields often require a bachelor's degree and some laboratory experience. In a bachelor's degree program, biotechnology students complete a broad interdisciplinary spectrum of laboratory courses including organic chemistry, biochemistry, plant or animal biology, special courses in biotechnology and biology-specific physics and statistics courses. Students are also required to complete undergraduate courses such as English, math and history.
- Complete an internship. The BLS recommends internship programs to help students gain laboratory experience. Many bachelor's degree programs also give course credits for students who complete internship opportunities with biotechnology firms and faculty research projects.
Step 3: Gain Laboratory Experience
The ABIS notes that, during college, prospective biotechnology technicians can gain laboratory experience by working part-time as research assistants for faculty members or by seeking out internships. A candidate's prior laboratory experience determines how much on the-job-training he or she requires, since some employers prefer to hire those with extensive laboratory experience, while others provide training with experienced supervisors. Biotechnology technicians require knowledge of, and familiarity with, a variety of computer-based, automated and traditional lab equipment. Students may also gain proficiency with recording and analyzing data, monitoring experiments and maintaining equipment.