What is a Chemical Lab Technician?

Shawn S. Lealos

A chemical lab technician is a research technician who works with chemicals in experimental labs. This technician develops and uses chemicals alongside chemical engineers and chemists. Sample jobs that someone in this job may accomplish include monitoring pollution levels or manufacturing new compounds through organic synthesis.

Chemical lab technicians may be required to wear gloves, masks and other safety equipment.
Chemical lab technicians may be required to wear gloves, masks and other safety equipment.

Most of the work that a chemical lab technician will perform occurs in development and research labs. He or she typically works under the close supervision of chemists or lab managers. A range of lab procedures might be used, from routine or very complex.

Chemical lab technicians work primarily for scientific, professional and technical firms.
Chemical lab technicians work primarily for scientific, professional and technical firms.

A technician analyzes data, tests the stability of compounds, produces compounds, and tests materials and products using chemical, automated, or manual processes. He or she also keeps all lab records up to date, submits requests, negotiates prices, weighs out samples, maintains equipment, stocks the lab, processes shipments, and troubleshoots all lab equipment. The technician may also be responsible for process control.

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A chemical lab technician is responsible for keeping all lab records up to date.
A chemical lab technician is responsible for keeping all lab records up to date.

Most chemical lab technicians work in laboratories under regular hours. They can face potential hazards from chemicals, equipment and other toxic materials, such as radioactive isotopes and toxic chemicals. These working conditions offer little risk as long as workers follow proper safety procedures.

Many chem lab technician positions require as many as 5 years experience working hands-on in a chemical lab.
Many chem lab technician positions require as many as 5 years experience working hands-on in a chemical lab.

Chemical lab technicians work mainly for scientific, professional, and technical firms as well as for local and state governments. As of 2010, the job market for these technicians was expected to decline slightly over the next decade as corporations downsized. The job prospects were expected to remain good in pharmaceutical fields.

Chemical lab technicians develop chemicals in laboratories.
Chemical lab technicians develop chemicals in laboratories.

A bachelor’s degree, preferably in chemistry or a related field, normally is required to become a chemical lab technician. Job applicants typically need advanced degrees to achieve higher positions in the field. Many jobs also require as many as five years of experience working hands-on in chemical labs. Other skills needed for the job include communication skills, troubleshooting skills, and computer skills.

A chemical lab technician may use lab equipment, including centrifuges, to develop new substances.
A chemical lab technician may use lab equipment, including centrifuges, to develop new substances.
Chemical lab technicians work in experimental labs.
Chemical lab technicians work in experimental labs.

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