Laboratory aides work as members of laboratory teams fulfilling duties assigned to them. Their responsibilities vary depending on their work setting, such as working in college or university laboratories or in chemistry labs. Experience in a laboratory is helpful in finding employment as a laboratory aide.
Laboratory aides assist the laboratory manager by conducting tests and cleaning lab equipment. Some medical and clinical laboratory aide positions may require medical licensing to meet federal or state guidelines. While all laboratory aides play a supportive role and work directly under the lab manager, the daily tasks and skills required vary between professions.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED sometimes acceptable; associate's or bachelor's degree preferred|
|Other Requirements||Some states or employers require licensure or certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||18% (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$38,970 (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and clinical laboratory aides assist medical practitioners in the preparation and mixing of formulas, washing and sterilizing equipment, and keeping the laboratory organized (www.bls.gov). Additionally, laboratory aides may also help with the administrative and clerical work associated with the lab. These tasks may include ordering supplies, keeping records and scheduling. Chemistry, biology or physics laboratory aides may also perform these clerical duties.
The laboratory aide does not perform experiments, tests or trials that fulfill her or his individual research interests. Instead, she or he works directly under the lab manager, performing tasks as per the lab manager's instructions. These tasks are collaborative in nature and require the aide to work as a member of a team toward a common objective.
College and university laboratory aides may help set up the classroom labs and assist students with disabilities in the performing assignments. The laboratory aide often provides support to students in need when the professor lacks the time and resources to help each student individually.
Career Requirements of a Laboratory Aide
Laboratory aides must be organized in order to keep specimens, equipment and files in order and up to date. Aides must also be able to communicate effectively with all members of the lab and comply with all federal and state laws. Similarly, confidentiality within the medical setting is a must.
Educational Requirements of a Laboratory Aide
A high school diploma is required for basic lab assistant jobs, but employers often look for candidates with prior laboratory experience. For more specialized positions, an associate or bachelor's degree in a relevant field is required. Many applicants hold degrees in biology, chemistry or physics, while others earn medical technology degrees. Some employers prefer candidates who have national certification in addition to meeting the educational requirements.
Career Information for Laboratory Aides
Earning potential for laboratory aides can increase depending on previous laboratory experience, education, additional licensing or certification or specific training programs. For example, a laboratory assistant who becomes a medical or clinical laboratory technician can earn less than $25,890 to $60,810 or more per year, according to 2015 salary figures from the BLS. Candidates can enter into a laboratory aide position with minimal education and experience and, by taking a few extra steps towards certification or licensing from within this position, improve their pay substantially.
Laboratory aides may be required to have undergraduate training in order to find more specialized work, but usually experience and a high school diploma or GED are enough. These assistants work in a variety of settings carrying out tasks that range from organizing samples and files to preforming basic lab work. The ability to be well organized and to communicate effectively are important for this type of career.