A biological technician, sometimes referred to as a biological aide, is a professional who helps a biologist conduct medical research, particularly in a laboratory setting. While duties may vary, a biological technician primarily collects data and samples. Technicians may work in a wide range of settings, including professional, scientific, or technical service firms. Others may work in educational settings, or at pharmaceutical or medicine manufacturing companies. Typically, a technician will possess at least a two-year’s associate degree.
Responsibilities of a biological technician may include the upkeep of laboratories and various equipment. Also, a technician may take care of laboratory animals and help carry out experiments and record findings. A technician typically uses sophisticated scientific equipment, as well as computers and electronic measuring devices.
Hours may vary, but technicians typically work approximately 40 hours per week. Most work is done inside, though some technicians, such as those who examine plants, may spend a great deal of time working outdoors. In some instances, biological technicians handle hazardous chemicals or toxic materials.
As biology is a diverse field, technicians may work examining a host of organisms such as molds, viruses, or bacteria. Some technicians may examine blood, drugs, or food. Other technicians may be responsible for helping to take research information and applying it to product development.
A biological technician also keeps current in his particular field of expertise through professional organizations. Associations provide networking and professional development opportunities. Examples of professional organizations for biological technicians include the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, and the American Society of Human Genetics.
Working in a technical field, a biological technician is required to comprehend basic laboratory methods related to his area of expertise. A technician requires strong computer skills, as he is constantly performing research and developmental procedures. Other helpful skills include analytical thinking and strong organizational abilities. As a technician performs routine tests repeatedly, patience and ability to interpret data are often required.
A biological technician normally possesses a strong background in chemistry, physics, and mathematics. For an entry level job, a technician needs an associate degree or certificate in a science-related field. Typically a technician will hold a bachelor’s degree in biology or similar study. Before gaining employment as a biological technician, a person is usually required to do some type of internship.
Generally, a technician begins his profession as a trainee while working for a scientist or a more skilled technician. As a technician becomes more adept in his field, he is given additional responsibilities. Eventually, a technician may be able to conduct experiments on his own.