Science Technician Career Information and Education Requirements
Science technicians work in a variety of scientific disciplines, and their duties vary widely. Continue reading for an overview of the necessary degree programs as well as career and salary information related to some job options for graduates.
Science technicians may work in a number of different fields, such as animal, forensic, food, chemical and biological science. Science technicians utilize the theories and principles of science to solve problems, and their daily duties include setting up and monitoring experiments, recording observations, calculating results and explaining conclusions of research. An undergraduate science degree is typically sufficient preparation for a career as a science technician.
|Career Titles||Biological Technicians||Forensic Science Technicians||Chemical Technicians|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree in biology or a related discipline||Bachelor's degree in chemistry, biology or another natural science||Associate's degree in chemical technology or applied science and on-the-job training|
|Projected Job Growth (2012 - 2022)*||10%||6%||9%|
|Median Annual Salary (May, 2013)*||$40,710||$54,360||$43,310|
Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Science technicians of all kinds work alongside scientists in their chosen fields of interest, including agricultural, environmental, forensic, chemical, biological and nuclear science. Their responsibilities involve taking care of the lab equipment and experiments and making notes and adjustments as necessary. Science technicians generally work regular hours in laboratories, although some may work outside if their specialty calls for it. Biological technicians, forensic science technicians and chemical technicians are just a few of the potential job titles for science technicians.
Biological technicians assist researchers and scientists by collecting food, bacteria and blood samples, conducting scientific tests, and interpreting the results. They may use automated and robotic equipment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 10% job growth for biological technicians between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Biological technicians held 71,590 jobs in 2013, as reported by the BLS. Median annual salaries were $40,710 in May of 2013.
Forensic Science Technicians
A forensic science technician is part of a criminal investigation team. He or she takes photographs of and collects physical evidence and fingerprints from crime scenes. The evidence is then transported to crime labs where the forensic science technicians conduct various biological and chemical tests. The BLS predicted an employment increase of six percent for forensic science technicians between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, the median annual salaries for these technicians were $54,360.
Chemical technicians assist chemists by readying chemical solutions for experiments, analyzing the tests and summarizing their results. They also ensure that chemical processes adhere to specifications. An employment growth rate of nine percent was predicted for chemical technicians from 2012-2022. The median annual salaries of chemical technicians were $43,310 in May of 2013.
Just as the disciplines of science technicians vary, so do their wages. According to the BLS, nuclear technicians earn more on average than the rest of science technicians, and forest technicians earn the least. Salary also depends more on the level of experience an individual has rather than their education. Science technicians usually start out as trainees and work their way up to supervisor. Employment can be found in private, public and non-profit sectors.
The majority of science technicians are required to complete an associate's degree program in science technology or an applied science for entry-level positions. A bachelor's degree is needed for forensic science and biological technicians. Some lab experience is helpful, and individuals can obtain this as part of their degree program or through volunteer work. Science technicians may occasionally gain all of their training on the job without any formal education past high school, but these opportunities are rare and limited.
Community colleges and technical institutes offer 1-2 year programs in science technologies, and colleges and universities provide applied sciences concentrations. Regardless of the scientific field of interest, taking a variety of math courses is a good idea for any future science technician. Written and oral communication, computer proficiency, analytical thinking, organization and teamwork are beneficial skills for science technicians to have.