Biological technicians
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Overview
Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for biological technicians are expected to grow by 10%, and should have about 8,900 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Biological technicians are less likely to be automated than 66% of other careers.
Workforce size
Biological technicians, with 82,100 workers, form a larger workforce than 61% of careers.
Education
Only 48% of biological technicians have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by biological technicians
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More biological technicians have bachelor's degrees than 68% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 56% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for biological technicians. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most biological technicians.
This job's median $45KAll jobs' median $39K$44K$38K20142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 46% of biological technicians -- that's a larger percentage than 60% of other jobs.
Gender of biological technicians
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For biological technicians, the median men's salary was 8% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 23% of biological technicians are minority, and 18% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of biological technicians
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (18%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Biological Technicians per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 65% of biological technicians, and 81% have company-sponsored health insurance (22% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for biological technicians
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 45% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of biological technicians who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Contaminants (43%)
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (38%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (36%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do biological technicians earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for biological technicians, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for biological technicians compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for biological technicians (BLS Salary Data)
$45K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$45K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all biological technicians, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for biological technicians compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for biological technicians (ACS Salary Data)
$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where biological technicians work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Biological technicians (ACS)
Private for-profit (72.0%)
Private not-for-profit (5.4%)
Local government (2.1%)
State government (9.2%)
Federal government (10.3%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.2%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.7%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of biological technicians by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$47K$52K$35K$42K$39K$33K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of biological technicians by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$45K$39K$45K$46K$41K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for biological technicians

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$59K$31K$48K$48K$60K$48K$56K$37K$65K$0$50K$100K$150KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
01K2K3KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Biological technicians and gender

With 46% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 60% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
46%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Biological technicians
Men (54%)
Women (46%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for biological technicians, with the median salary for men 8% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$45K$49K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Biological technicians have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 78% of other jobs.

8%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of biological technicians

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority biological technicians than for 64% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of biological technicians
White (72% )
Asian (11% )
Black (7% )
Other (4% )
Multiracial (3% )
American Indian (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
23%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
18%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for biological technicians by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$31K$40K$46K$55K$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KPacific IslanderHispanicWhiteBlackAsian
Distribution: Salaries for biological technicians by nativity
$46K$62K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by biological technicians

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biological technicians typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as biological technicians as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for biological technicians.

Education attained by biological technicians
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for biological technicians

Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. Most colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in the biological sciences. Some positions may be available to associate’s degree holders or those without a degree but who have biological laboratory experience.

Biological science programs usually include courses in general biology, as well as in specific subfields such as ecology, microbiology, and physiology. In addition to taking courses in biology, students must study chemistry, math, and physics. Computer science courses are helpful for learning how to model and simulate biological processes and for learning how to operate some laboratory equipment.

Laboratory experience is important for prospective biological technicians, so students should take biology courses that emphasize laboratory work.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for biological technicians? Below we see the distribution of biological technicians salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as biological technicians, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$37K$47K$47K$49K$62K$81K$85K$0$50K$100K$150KHigh School (16%)Some College (19%)Associate's Degree (12%)Bachelor's Degree (35%)Master's Degree (7%)Professional Deg/Doct (2%)Doctorate (5%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by biological technicians

This table shows the college majors held by people working as biological technicians. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Biological technicians with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
27.1%
$0$200K$63K
5.9%
$0$200K$65K
5.7%
$0$200K$61K
4.4%
$0$200K$73K
3.2%
$0$200K$67K
2.2%
$0$200K$52K
2.2%
$0$200K$53K
1.7%
$0$200K$54K
1.7%
$0$200K$56K
1.7%
$0$200K$63K
1.3%
$0$200K$62K
1.3%
$0$200K$80K
1.1%
$0$200K$60K
1.1%
$0$200K$73K
1.1%
$0$200K$55K
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as biological technicians, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by biological technicians given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Physicians and surgeonsPostsecondary teachersManagers (specialized areas)Elementary and middle school teachersDentistsRegistered nursesPhysical scientists (specialized areas)Epidemiologists and Medical/Life ScientistsClinical laboratory technologists and techniciansPharmacistsBiological scientistsScience techniciansApplications and systems software developersChemists and materials scientistsSurveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetristsConservation scientists and forestersEnvironmental scientists and geoscientistsFirst-line supervisors of office and administrative support workersFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersPolice officersChief executives and legislatorsMedical and health services managersSecondary school teachersEducation administratorsCounselorsSocial workersPsychologistsLawyers, judges, and magistratesHuman resources workersAccountants and auditorsWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesBiologySpecialized Program inBiologyBiochemical SciencesMolecular BiologyNatural ResourcesManagementChemistryMicrobiologyEcologyPsychologyMultidisciplinary or GeneralScienceAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for biological technicians

What jobs will most biological technicians hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of biological technicians reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Biological techniciansManagers (specialized areas)Clinical laboratory technologists and techniciansInsurance claims and policy processing clerksFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersBiological scientistsComputer programmersAccountants and auditorsBiomedical and agricultural engineersScience techniciansChemists and materials scientistsFirst-line supervisors of production and operating workersFood processing workersGeological, petroleum, and nuclear techniciansEpidemiologists and Medical/Life ScientistsApplications and systems software developersBusiness operations specialistsFishing and hunting workersFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersAgricultural and food science techniciansJanitors and building cleanersForest and conservation workers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for biological technicians

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 7 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as biological technicians as well as 1% of respondents after working as biological technicians. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for biological technicians: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as biological technicians? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of biological technicians surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for biological technicians
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Waiters and waitresses
522,900
$0$200K$21K
3.6%
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
3.4%
Service sales representatives
131,900
$0$200K$57K
1.4%
Agricultural workers (specialized areas)
129,300
$0$200K$21K
4.4%
Protective service workers
74,900
$0$200K$19K
4.9%
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
59,500
$0$200K$53K
3.2%
Cleaners of vehicles and equipment
58,500
$0$200K$23K
2.9%
Teachers and instructors (specialized areas)
55,600
$0$200K$43K
3.8%
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
25,900
$0$200K$46K
1.7%
Science technicians
24,800
$0$200K$41K
2.2%
Electrical and electronics engineers
23,100
$0$200K$93K
3.5%
Computer occupations (specialized areas)
22,500
$0$200K$68K
4.5%
Epidemiologists and Medical/Life Scientists
13,700
$0$200K$67K
4.3%
Chemists and materials scientists
9,400
$0$200K$67K
3.1%
Biological technicians
8,900
$0$200K$47K
25.1%
Computer operators
3,500
$0$200K$41K
1.7%
Forest and conservation workers
2,200
$0$200K$32K
3.2%
Physical scientists (specialized areas)
2,000
$0$200K$69K
4.8%
Biomedical and agricultural engineers
1,800
$0$200K$80K
4.6%
No occupation
12.4%
Read about biological technicians
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Biological technicians typically do the following:

  • Set up, maintain, and clean laboratory instruments and equipment, such as microscopes, scales, pipets, and test tubes
  • Gather and prepare biological samples, such as blood, food, and bacteria cultures, for laboratory analysis
  • Conduct biological tests and experiments
  • Document their work, including procedures, observations, and results
  • Analyze experimental data and interpret results
  • Write reports that summarize their findings

Biological technicians, sometimes called laboratory assistants, typically are responsible for doing scientific tests, experiments, and analyses under the supervision of biologists (such as microbiologists) or medical scientists who direct and evaluate their work. Biological technicians use traditional laboratory instruments, advanced robotics, and automated equipment to conduct experiments. They use specialized computer software to collect, analyze, and model experimental data. Some biological technicians, such as those who assist the work of zoologists and wildlife biologists, may collect samples in the field, so they may need the ability to hike rugged terrain or otherwise travel through wilderness areas.

Biological technicians work in many research areas. They may assist medical researchers by administering new medicines and treatments to laboratory animals. They may separate proteins from other cell material, and analyze data from an experiment.

Biological technicians working in a microbiological context typically study living microbes and perform techniques specific to microbiology, such as staining specimens to aid identification.

Biological technicians also may work in private industry and assist in the study of a wide range of topics concerning industrial production. They may test samples in environmental impact studies, or monitor production processes to help ensure that products are not contaminated.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of biological technicians? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Analytical skills
Biological technicians need to conduct scientific experiments and analyses with accuracy and precision.
Communication skills
Biological technicians must understand and follow the instructions of their managing scientists. They also need to communicate their processes and findings clearly in written reports.
Critical-thinking skills
Biological technicians draw conclusions from experimental results through sound reasoning and judgment.
Observational skills
Biological technicians must constantly monitor their experiments. They need to keep a complete, accurate record of their work, including the conditions under which the experiment was carried out, the procedures they followed, and the results they obtained.
Technical skills
Biological technicians need to set up and operate sophisticated equipment and instruments. They also may need to adjust equipment to ensure that experiments are conducted properly.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for biological technicians
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 56% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for biological technicians. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $45KAll jobs' median $39K$44K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for biological technicians are anticipated to grow by 10% over the next decade, which is faster growth than is predicted for 63% of other jobs.

The projected employment for biological technicians is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030020,00040,00060,00080,000100,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most biological technicians? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as biological technicians. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Biological Technicians per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.51.01.52.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where biological technicians earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for biological technicians compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for biological technicians.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Biological Technicians to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which biological technicians earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Biological technicians (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
Environment
Knowledge
Physical Abilities
Jobs that are similar by Interests and Salary (All education levels)
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