A biotechnician aids biological researchers in their duties and manages lab equipment. A bachelor's degree in a biology-type field is required, which provides hands-on training in addition to the classwork, though training also occurs on the job.
Biotechnicians, also known as biological technicians, often work in laboratories aiding scientists and researchers in their studies of living organisms. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in a field such as biology or laboratory science is recommended to become a biotechnician. Master's degree programs can prepare graduates for more advanced positions.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree at minimum; some have master's degrees|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5%|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$41,650|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of a Biotechnician
Biotechnicians work in a wide variety of industries, including horticulture, healthcare and technology. Primarily scientific researchers and assistants, biotechnicians provide support to biologists and other scientists in the lab and the field. Their work focuses on the study of living organisms. Experiments and research helps them discover new pharmaceuticals and medical treatments, improve agricultural productivity, advance forensic processes and develop new technologies.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that job opportunities for biological technicians are expected to increase by 5 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. As of May 2015, the BLS reports that the average salary for biological technicians was $41,650, with the majority making between $26,610 and $69,180.
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Job Duties of a Biotechnician
Biotechnicians gather and process data under the direction of a biological researcher or scientist. They need to be familiar with federal or state regulations that relate to a particular subject, study or experiment. Knowledge of laboratory procedures and equipment is necessary for the job, and they need to provide thorough and meticulous work.
In the lab, biotechnicians clean, set-up, prepare and operate equipment while researching a project. They should be strong at computational mathematics and have good computer skills for recording and inputting data. Attention to detail is vital, and the job generally requires significant documentation and reporting on experimental findings.
Education Requirements of a Biotechnician
The BLS states that biotechnicians typically need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the field (www.bls.gov). Bachelor's degree programs in biology and laboratory science provide the education and hands-on learning necessary to qualify graduates for entry-level jobs as biotechnicians. Those seeking advanced positions could enroll in a master's degree program that focuses on research and allows students to specialize in a particular area of biology, such as biotechnology, medical biology or agriculture.
A 4-year bachelor's program often includes significant lab training in addition to lecture and didactic courses. Some schools offer undergraduate concentrations, such as ecology or molecular biology. Students study cell biology, genetics, physiology and chemistry. A master's degree can usually be earned in two years, and many schools allow students to structure the curricula to a particular interest. Common courses include molecular biology, biochemistry, advanced cell biology and biological evolution.
Biologists and other scientists have assistants, or biotechnicians, to help them with laboratory work. They work with computers and numerous scientific equipment, so accuracy and astute observation are most important.