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Scientific laboratory technician: Job description

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Scientific laboratory technicians are involved in a variety of laboratory-based investigations within biological, chemical, physical and life science areas.

They may carry out sampling, testing, measuring, recording and analysing of results as part of a scientific team. Technicians provide all the required technical support to enable the laboratory to function effectively, while adhering to correct procedures and health and safety guidelines.

Scientific laboratory technicians carry out work that assists in the advancement and development of modern medicine and science. The work plays an important role in the foundation stages of research and development (R&D) and in scientific analysis and investigation.

They are mainly employed within industry, in government departments and research organisations.

The role of a teaching laboratory technician is similar although their work takes place in educational institutions, where they support science teachers, lecturers and students.

Typical work activities

Scientific laboratory technicians carry out the work that allows scientists to concentrate on, and perform, the more complex analytical processes in the laboratory.

Tasks can vary depending on the specific employer but typically involve:

  • performing laboratory tests in order to produce reliable and precise data to support scientific investigations;
  • carrying out routine tasks accurately and following strict methodologies to carry out analyses;
  • preparing specimens and samples;
  • constructing, maintaining and operating standard laboratory equipment, for example centrifuges, titrators, pipetting machines and pH meters;
  • ensuring the laboratory is well-stocked and resourced;
  • recording and sometimes interpreting results to present to senior colleagues;
  • using computers and performing mathematical calculations for the preparation of graphs;
  • keeping up to date with technical developments, especially those which can save time and improve reliability;
  • conducting searches on identified topics relevant to the research;
  • following and ensuring strict safety procedures and safety checks.

The actual nature of the work will depend upon the organisation. For example, within an environmental health department, the work may involve analysing food samples to consider prosecution and to protect public health, while within the water industry the work will mainly focus on the collection and analysis of water samples.

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2014

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