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Becoming a Lab Technician

September 8th, 2014

Are you thinking of becoming a lab technician? This can be a rewarding career if you have the right personality and aptitude. If you love science, want to work in healthcare, are capable of multi-tasking, and are willing to pay attention to small details, then this could be the perfect job for you.

There are many different types of lab technician (aka assistant technical officer), but the main focus with this career is assisting scientists to carry out tests and do research. Your responsibilities may include things like collecting samples, setting up equipment, analysing samples, recording data, and making sure the laboratory environment is kept safe.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Lab Technician

There is no official minimal academic requirement for getting work as a lab technician, but many positions expect you to have GCSEs and maybe even an A-level in one of the sciences. If you have a Higher National Diploma or Bachelor of Science degree, it will likely give you an advantage – although, this is one job where an enthusiastic attitude could impress interviewers enough that they choose you over a more academically qualified candidate.

Lab technicians receive on-the-job training, and this means you get paid while you learn. In the NHS, certificates are rewarded for mastering certain competencies, and these can be used later when applying for jobs elsewhere. There may also be the option to some formal accreditation such as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).

Job Satisfaction and Career Prospects as a Lab Technician

An experienced lab technician will usually enjoy a high level of job security – there is likely always going to be a demand for this role. The starting pay is reasonable enough (around £13,500), and you can earn a lot more if you stay in this career long-term.

Working side-by-side with scientists can be enjoyable as well as challenging. Those who are suitably motivated can do educational courses to become a trainee biomedical scientist. Working as a technician may mean all this training is paid for by your employer, so it is a good way to gain qualifications if you can’t afford to go to university. There are also many areas where a lab technician can find work (e.g. cytology, histology, and biochemistry), so there is always the option to change to a new area if you get bored.