How Do I Become a Chemical Laboratory Technician?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree
A chemical lab tech performing an experiment.
A chemical lab tech performing an experiment.

Chemical laboratory technicians assist chemists and engineers in all aspects of a chemical manufacturing process including research, development, and testing. In order to become a chemical laboratory technician, you must be very detail-oriented and have excellent problem-solving skills. Educational requirements for this occupation vary, but an associate’s degree in applied science or bachelor’s degree in chemistry is typically required for employment. You should also participate in an internship during college to gain some practical work experience prior to graduation. Certain industries may require you to be professionally licensed or certified before beginning this career and continuing education classes are sometimes needed as well.

You must have several important personal qualities to become a chemical laboratory technician. These professionals are typically very meticulous and have the patience and perseverance to perform repeated experiments and tests. A natural inquisitiveness and good analytical thinking skills are also needed for this occupation. You must be able to follow directions and work as part of a team to successfully carry out the complex experiments and tests involved in chemical research and development. Excellent oral and written communications skills along with a high level of accuracy are also needed to work in the chemical process industry.

There is a certain amount of formal education that you should have before you become a chemical laboratory technician. An associate’s degree in applied science is usually sufficient for an entry-level position, but some employers may require you to complete a bachelor’s degree in chemistry before beginning this career. Preparatory coursework for this profession should include organic and inorganic chemistry, instrumental and quantitative analysis, and physics. Additional classes in statistics, advanced algebra, and computer science may also be beneficial. If possible, courses in technical writing should also be taken to prepare for this career.

In addition to your classroom education, you should also acquire some hands-on work experience before you become a chemical laboratory technician. Internship programs are available in many industries and can often be completed while attending a college or technical institute. Participating in an internship allows you to work in an entry-level capacity under the supervision of an experienced professional. Interns typically begin by performing simple laboratory tasks and are allowed to participate in more complex procedures as their experience increases. Many two-year colleges offer these internships as a cooperative education partnership with a regional employer.

Professional licensing or certification may also be necessary before beginning this career. Technicians who work in the food processing industry are usually required to hold a regional license, while those who utilize radioactive isotopes may need some type of nuclear material certification. Continuing education courses may also be required to keep your skills current with technological advances in this field. These courses can usually be completed through professional seminars and workshops.

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    • A chemical lab tech performing an experiment.
      A chemical lab tech performing an experiment.