Research Technician: Required Skills, Job Duties and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a research technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

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A research technician helps scientists with their research and experiments. Depending on their exact job they might have any number of duties including collecting data, ordering inventory, conducting experiments or any other number of job responsibilities. Research technicians must have strong mathematics skills and scientific knowledge, and they must be organized, thorough and observant.

Essential Information

Research technicians assist scientists with the more practical aspects of their daily research. Individuals in this field might also be called science technicians.

Research technicians generally display an aptitude for both math and science, and since they work with various types of equipment, it may be helpful for them to be mechanically inclined. Research technicians work closely with numbers and data, so computer literacy and the ability to pay strict attention to detail are also beneficial skills. In addition, having good written and verbal communication skills can be useful in dealing with employers and co-workers.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% for biological technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $41,650 annually for biological technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degree Requirements

Students can prepare for this career as early as high school by taking math and science classes. There are no specific licenses or certificates required for research technicians, and degree requirements can vary, though research positions typically require a bachelor's degree in a science-related field. Keep in mind that technicians at this level are often required to participate in on-the-job training.

Some community colleges or technical schools offer internships for research technicians, possibly focused on a specific type of scientific research.

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Job Duties of a Research Technician

Research technicians can be employed in many different fields, with varied responsibilities. Though most research technicians work in laboratories or research facilities, some work outdoors, conducting field research at remote locations such as nuclear research facilities, forests, or petroleum plants. Some of a research or science technician's general job duties might be:

  • Conducting tests and experiments
  • Gathering, interpreting, and recording research and data
  • Operating and maintaining computer and lab equipment
  • Analyzing specific substances
  • Researching quality control
  • Ordering inventory
  • Shipping samples

Career Information for Research Technicians

Salaries

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports that the median annual salary earned by biological technicians was $41,650 in May 2015. The highest paying employers at the time included doctors' offices, drug merchants, and other pharmaceutical companies. In addition, the BLS enumerates numerous science related fields as potential employers for technicians; possibilities range from food science to petroleum.

Job Outlook

The BLS also maintains that overall job growth for biological technicians is expected to increase by 5% between 2014 and 2024. However, for other areas such as environmental science and forensic science, BLS projects increases of 9% and 27%, respectively.

Research technicians can work in many industries, helping scientists collect data. They need at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, along with math and science knowledge. Job duties, salaries and job growth outlook vary depending on the employer.

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