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Be a Biotechnology Technician: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a biotechnology technician. Learn about the job description and see the step-by-step process to start a career in biotechnology. View article »

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  • 0:02 Biotechnology…
  • 1:13 Take Science Classes
  • 1:50 Earn College Degree
  • 2:19 Gain Lab Experience
  • 3:02 Obtain Employment
  • 3:49 Advance Your Career

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Video Transcript

Biotechnology Technician Career

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 the 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.

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 and teamwork skills, and knowledge of industry-specific equipment and instruments
Salary (2015) $41,650 (median annual pay for all biological technicians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Take Science Classes

The first step to becoming a biotechnology technician can take place as early as high school. In order to become familiar with basic laboratory equipment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends a high school 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 prepares aspiring biotechnology students for the coursework that is to come in college.

Earn College Degree

Technician positions 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 in English, math, and history.

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  • Biotechnology Lab Technician
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Gain Lab Experience

The AIBS 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.

Obtain Employment

With appropriate education and training, prospective biotechnology technicians can seek employment in a wide variety of research and laboratory positions, including in pharmaceutical, clinical, agricultural, animal, food, and environmental science laboratories, as well as in product development or in government regulatory positions. They may analyze biological and chemical samples, conduct basic or applied research, develop products or new applications for existing technologies, or work with genetic material to diagnose or treat diseases.

For further success, biotechnology technicians should work on bolstering their resumes. While strong competition for available jobs is predicted, those with a significant amount of laboratory experience will have the upper hand.

Advance Your Career

With additional education and work experience, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes it is possible for biotechnology technicians to be promoted to positions with supervisory duties, such as scientist, technologist, or laboratory supervisor. Individuals in these roles may be tasked with supervising, coordinating, and managing laboratory personnel, training new hires, writing grants to obtain funding, and reporting laboratory findings to upper management. Some positions may require a master's degree or Ph.D. as well as years of experience in positions of increasing responsibility.

Once again, aspiring biotechnology technicians should earn a bachelor's degree in biology or a similar field before gaining laboratory experience and getting employment in one of a variety of biology-related industries.

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