Technical Assistant: Job Duties & Career Info

Technical assistants work in a variety of fields, including healthcare, science, computer science, education, and the arts. While specific duties vary by industry, generally all technical assistants work in a clerical role while supporting other professionals in their field. Keep reading to learn more details about becoming a technical assistant.

Career Definition of a Technical Assistant

Technical assistants are found in virtually every field, including education, healthcare, science, engineering, computer science, the arts, and more. Specific duties will vary by industry, but most technical assistants work in some type of administrative capacity to support other professionals in their field. Additionally, technical assistants manage data, develop correspondence or spreadsheets, prepare reports, and file paperwork. They may also help train new hires and be responsible for equipment maintenance.

Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent; a bachelor's degree could be required for those looking to gain specific positions
Job Skills Good organizational skills, good attention to detail, ability to work alone and as part of a team, and excellent communication skills
Median Salary (2015)* Varies by field; as an example, $38,970 for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* Varies by field; as an example, 18% for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

All technical assistants must possess a high school diploma or equivalent. Furthermore, most companies prefer that technical assisting candidates have bachelor's degrees. The degree should usually be relevant to the specific field in which the prospective technical assistant would like to work. For example, an individual with a bachelor's degree in biology seeking a technical assisting job in a lab would be preferred over an individual with a bachelor's in English literature. Some companies may also consider applicants with a combination of coursework and experience. Depending on the particular field and the candidate's educational background, most employers also prefer between two to five years of industry-specific technical assisting experience.

Skills Required

Technical assistants should be organized and detail-oriented. They should be able to multitask and prioritize using good time management skills. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are also preferred. Additionally, technical assistants should be able to work well independently but also as part of a team.

Career and Economic Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide specific information for technical assistants in all fields, those that work in laboratories as medical and clinical laboratory technicians were projected to see a 18% growth in employment from 2014-2024. The median pay for medical and clinical laboratory technicians was $38,970 in 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Those interested in becoming a technical assistant may also want to consider the following positions:

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

After completing an approved program spanning at least one year and including a clinical experience, these nurses must pass the state exam to become a licensed LPN or LVN. They will then work under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses to give patients basic care. The outlook for nursing positions from 2014-2024 is very good, with 16% growth predicted by the BLS. According to that same source, these nurses earned an annual median wage of $43,170 in 2015.

Preschool Teacher

These educators who work with children younger than kindergarten age. Educational requirements vary among employers and states, but often involve at least an associate's degree and childcare experience. An average employment growth of 7% was forecast during the 2014-2024 decade by the BLS. As of May 2015, preschool teachers (except those working in special education) earned a median salary of $28,570 per year, often working during the traditional school hours and year.

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