Biological technicians typically do the following:
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.
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.