Biological technicians typically assist biologists studying living organisms. They collect information, samples and materials. They sometimes use robotics, computers, computer-interfaced equipment and high technology industrial applications. They conduct experiments and tests. They provide the results from experiments and tests to scientists.
Some biological technologists are employed by pharmaceutical companies and assist in the development and the manufacture of medicines. Many biological techs assist scientists that perform medical research such as trying to find a cure for AIDS. Some biological techs work with insects and may assist scientists with developing new insecticides. They also analyze organic substances including food, drugs and blood.
Science technicians involved with biotechnology, utilize the techniques and knowledge gained from research and apply them to developing products. Biological aides that are involved with microbiology usually work as laboratory assistants and study living organisms and infectious agents.
Some common job titles include laboratory technician, biological science laboratory technician, research associate, research assistant, biological aide, research specialist, research technician and wildlife biology technician.
- Set up, operate and maintain laboratory equipment and instruments
- Examine specimens and animals in order to detect diseases or other problems
- Monitor experiments and make evaluations
- Calculate and record results from experiments
- Analyze organic substances
- Evaluate data from experiments and interpret results
- Prepare, clean and maintain work areas and supplies
- Isolate, identify and prepare specimens for examination
Most scientific technicians work indoors, typically in laboratories and have standard work hours. Sometimes they may have to work irregular hours in order to observe experiments. Biological technicians sometimes work with radioactive agents or disease causing organisms. Proper safety procedures need to be followed.
Since they often report their information, having good oral and written communication skills is important for the occupation. They need strong computer, organizational and analytical skills. Biological technicians should also be detailed oriented.
From 2008 to 2018 the employment of biological technicians has been projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to increase by 18 percent which is faster than the average for all occupations. The growing amount of medicinal and agricultural products developed from biotechnology research will increase the demand for these technicians. In 2008 approximately 30 percent of biological technicians were employed by professional, scientific or technical firms.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Biological technicians often are required to have a bachelor's degree in biology or in a closely related subject. Some employers hire science technicians that have completed at least two years of specialized postsecondary training or hold an associate degree in applied science or science related technology.
Technical institutions provide technical training for scientific technicians, however they usually provide less theory and general education than community colleges. Some schools provide internship programs or cooperative-education programs which provide students the opportunity to work at a company or some other type of workplace while they attend classes during alternate terms.
The primary employers are colleges, universities, medical research centers, agricultural research centers; professional, scientific firms; technical firms, nonprofit research associations, chemical companies, the drug industry, the food processing industry and the government.
Schools for Biological Technicians are listed in the Browse Schools Section.