If you have a passion for science and a keen eye for detail, becoming a lab technician is a rewarding career choice

Laboratory technicians play a vital role in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, research institutions, and manufacturing. They are responsible for performing tests, analysing samples, and assisting scientists and medical professionals in their work.

There are various roles within the lab technician field. For more information, see scientific laboratory technician and teaching laboratory technician job profiles.

What qualifications do I need to work as a laboratory technician?

While some employers require candidates to have a Bachelors degree in a scientific subject, entry-level lab technician positions may be accessible with GCSEs or A-levels.

Candidates with additional qualifications, such as BTECs or diplomas, may have a competitive advantage in the job market. Consider pursuing a BTEC National Diploma or a foundation degree in subjects like applied science, biomedical science, or laboratory technology to gain the knowledge and skills for working in a laboratory environment.

Alternatively, a Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate of Education (HNC) qualification typically takes three years to complete and often combines coursework with laboratory work experience. These are vocational qualifications that emphasise practical skills, allowing you to enter the workforce quicker.

Current two-year HND courses available to increase your employability as a laboratory technician include:

  • Biomedical Science at The University of Wolverhampton - includes a six-week work placement in a research lab, giving you real-world experience and valuable employability skills.
  • Applied Biological Science at Glasgow Clyde College - offering an in-depth look at biomedical lab work alongside the theoretical foundation of biological sciences.
  • Applied Sciences (Biology) at The London College - featuring modules on the Fundamentals of Laboratory Techniques and the Analysis of Scientific Data and Information.

One-year HNC courses that will stand you in good stead for a career as a technician include:

  • Chemistry at the University of Greenwich - provides a foundation in laboratory practices in key areas like inorganic, organic, physical, and analytical chemistry.
  • Applied Science (Biology) at The City of Liverpool College - equips students with practical lab skills through modules such as Sampling and Sample Preparation and Fundamentals of Laboratory Techniques.
  • Applied Science (Chemistry) at London South Bank University - you'll conduct real-world experiments and analyse results using industry-standard equipment.

Find out more about choosing a course.

Do I need to be accredited to work as a lab technician?

Accreditation is not essential, but certification from professional bodies such as the Institute of Biomedical Science or the Science Council can enhance your employability as it demonstrates your competence and commitment to high standards.

Alternatively, you can check to see if your existing qualification is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology's degree accreditation programme.

Read our guide to professional qualifications.

Can I do a laboratory technician apprenticeship?

Typically ranging from one to three years, a laboratory technician apprenticeship combines classroom learning with on-the-job training to prepare students for working in a laboratory setting.

As a laboratory technician apprentice, you will work alongside experienced technicians and learn the necessary skills to:

  • perform laboratory tests
  • maintain laboratory equipment
  • follow safety protocols
  • analyse and report data.

Apprenticeships to become a laboratory technician include:

Some examples of apprenticeships include:

You can research a full list of providers at gov.uk.

Although entry requirements may vary, having basic qualifications in science and mathematics is often preferred. Make sure you check with specific programmes for their individual requirements.

Read all about apprenticeships.

What professional development do I need?

Laboratory science is ever-changing, with new technologies, regulations, and best practices constantly emerging. It is, therefore, essential to engage in continuous professional development (CPD) by attending relevant workshops, seminars, and training courses to stay up-to-date with the latest developments.

CPD activities to help you improve your knowledge and skills include:

You should also consider exploring opportunities for specialisation in a specific area of laboratory science, such as microbiology or molecular biology.

Another pathway for career development is to transition into related fields such as quality assurance or research.

Find out more

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