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Research Technician: Job Requirements

Filed in Articles by on 31st May 2021 0 Comments

Here is everything you need to know about a research technician job requirements. You’ll get to know who a research technician is and what they do.

Research Technician: Job Requirements

Research Technician: Job Requirements

Basically, Laboratory technicians are the backbone of a scientific research lab. They help scientists with their research and experiments. Though they work under the direction of research scientists, they still have a great deal of autonomy and several tasks they’re solely responsible for. 

Also called research assistants or lab assistants, these professionals can enter the field with a degree or with prior hands-on medical, lab, or scientific experience. Many specialize in one field of research, such as chemistry, agriculture, biology, or environmental science.

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Research Technician: Job Requirements

Who is a Research Technician?

A research technician helps scientists with their research, experiments, and a number of duties including conducting experiments, collecting data, ordering inventory, or any other number of job responsibilities.

The field a laboratory technician works in will largely dictate the type of work they do. In a medical environment, they might be analyzing body tissues or fluids, conducting blood tests, and examining cells. If they work for a drink and food manufacturer, they might be testing drink and food samples to ensure quality.

Typical responsibilities of a lab technician include:

  • conducting and supporting scientific investigations and experiments
  • planning, setting up, and undertaking controlled experiments and trials
  • recording and analyzing data
  • demonstrating procedures
  • collecting, preparing, and/or testing samples
  • maintaining, calibrating, cleaning, and testing sterility of the equipment
  • providing technical support
  • presenting results to senior staff
  • writing reports, reviews, and summaries
  • keeping up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments
  • supervising staff
  • carrying out risk assessments
  • ordering and maintaining stock and resources

Research technicians must have strong mathematics skills and scientific knowledge. They must also be organized, thorough and observant and generally display an aptitude for both math and science.

Since they work with various types of equipment, it may be also helpful for them to be mechanically inclined. Computer literacy and the ability to pay strict attention to detail are important skills because research technicians work closely with numbers and data. In addition, good written and verbal communication skills are essential as they can be useful in dealing with employers and co-workers.

Qualifications and training required

Both high school leavers and university graduates can become lab technicians. Graduates will need a degree in a relevant scientific subject such as biochemistry, chemistry, biology or physics. 

A high school leaver can apply for an apprenticeship or an entry-level role of a research technician. Typically, you’ll need Standard Grades or GCSEs and you might also need Standard Grades or A levels, including a scientific subject. With experience, a school leaver could progress to a supervisor role in the lab but to get into a research role, you will need to get a degree.

Key skills for laboratory technicians

  • Independence
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Good teamworking skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Time management

Research Technician Duties and Responsibilities

Review Existing Scientific Literature

Research technicians may review prior research conducted by other teams as part of the planning process. This includes studies published in relevant scientific and academic journals.

Document Findings

In many labs, the research technician is responsible for keeping detailed logs regarding all experiments conducted and the results of each for other team members to use and to serve as an official record.

Prepare Samples and Specimens

Research technicians collect samples, analyze them and interpret the results for use in experiments. The samples are processed and prepared and ensure they’re stored properly. This also includes labeling them and placing them in the correct storage areas. In addition, they.

Maintain Lab Equipment

Research technicians are responsible for the careful use and frequent maintenance of Laboratory instruments such as microscopes. They make sure all equipment works properly and notes when repairs are needed for any of them. They also set up instruments, tools, and equipment prior to use.

Manage Lab Facilities

At some organizations, the research technician manages the lab and all equipment in it, as well as train employees and monitor inventory.

 Degree Requirements

Students can prepare for a research technician career as early as high school by taking math and science classes. There are no specific certificates or licenses required for research technicians, and degree requirements can vary, though positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field. Have in mind that technicians at this level are often required to participate in on-the-job training.

Some technical schools and community colleges offer internships for research technicians, possibly focused on a specific type of scientific research.

How to become a research technician

Here are the steps you can take to become  a research technician,

  1. Choose a specific field of study

There are different research technician fields you can choose based on your interests. They include:

Environmental technicians: These technicians study water, air, and soil and help conduct research for safety and sustainability.

Biological technicians: Biological techs collect and test blood samples and do research to find cures for diseases.

Chemistry technicians: Chemistry technicians often work in pharmaceuticals assisting chemists and chemical engineers by mixing chemical compounds.

Agricultural technician: These technicians conduct research on crops and farm animals. They help with breeding procedures and develop more productive plants.

Sociological technicians: Sociological technicians conduct studies to learn more about human interactions with other people and their environments.

Nuclear technicians: Nuclear technicians work with nuclear energy. They monitor radiation and radioactive substances.

  1. Complete your education

Research technicians are required to have two years of study with specialized training before working in laboratories. Most associate degrees in science focus on courses in biology, math, chemistry, and computer science. You can also take courses and perform lab-related work. This depends on what science you would like to specialize in.

Research technicians may also pursue higher education, such as bachelor’s or master’s degrees, to help them gain more knowledge in their fields. A higher degree could make you a more competitive candidate and increase your earning potential. 

  1. Gain laboratory experience

Some technician certifications require lab experience so getting hands-on experience can help you qualify for more jobs. Your degree may have laboratory or research courses where you can gain experience. You can also seek internships with research firms you like so you can start developing professional connections.

  1. Get certified

To work as a research technician, you may need to obtain a certification from two main certifying bodies which are the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

The AAB offers five certifications for technicians:

  • MT (AAB) Medical Technologist
  • MDxT (AAB) Molecular Diagnostics Technologist
  • ALS (AAB) Andrology Laboratory Scientist
  • ELS (AAB) Embryology Laboratory Scientist
  • MLT (AAB) Medical Laboratory Technician

You need at least an Associate of Applied Science and a passing score on an exam to earn any of these certifications,.

The ASCP also has five certifications for technicians:

  • Histotechnician, HT (ASCP)
  • Medical Laboratory Technician, MLT (ASCP)
  • Phlebotomy Technician, PBT (ASCP)
  • Donor Phlebotomy Technician, DPT (ASCP)
  • Medical Laboratory Assistant, MLA (ASCP)

Research Technician Skills and Qualifications

Research technicians combine strong reasoning and analytical skills with extensive scientific knowledge specific to the field or type of Lab they work in. Employers typically seek either hands-on experience or formal training, in addition to the following skillset:

  • Safety knowledge – this job involves frequent exposure to bacteria, chemicals, and other hazards, as well as heat sources, glass test tubes, electrical tools and equipment, and other instruments requiring careful use
  • Computer skills – research technicians use computers to type and store information and results from their studies, analyze data, and perform computer simulations
  • Physical dexterity – although they may spend much of their time examining specimens or at a computer, research technicians also sometimes lift and move heavy equipment. They also perform other physically taxing duties such as standing for extended periods
  • Math skills – while conducting experiments and research, research technicians routinely work with units of measurement to perform calculations, both of which require accuracy to prevent compromising the study
  • Collaboration – Though research technicians handle their assigned tasks with minimal supervision, they’re also part of a research team and work closely with fellow technicians, assistants, scientists, and students if they work at a university
  • Communication skills – research technicians follow both written and verbal instructions to document their findings in written reports. They also give instructions to other team members.

Research Technician: Job Requirements

Job Duties of a Research Technician

Research technicians can be employed in many different fields, with varied responsibilities. This includes laboratories, research facilities, outdoors, conducting field research at remote locations such as forests, nuclear research facilities, or petroleum plants. Some of a research technician’s general job duties might be:

  • Gathering, interpreting, and recording research and data
  • Operating and maintaining computer and lab equipment
  • Conducting tests and experiments
  • Analyzing specific substances
  • Ordering inventory
  • Researching quality control
  • Shipping samples

Research technician Tools

Research technicians use the following tools and equipment regularly to work in a laboratory environment:

  • Computer programs (Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint or similar)
  • Laboratory equipment (microscopes, test tubes, syringes)

Research Technician Education and Training

Research technicians need at least an associate’s degree in applied science such as biology or chemistry, though many employers prefer a bachelor’s degree. Some may have degrees in a field that combines science and technology, such as medical laboratory technology. A classroom study and a hands-on clinical component, along with extensive math and science coursework are also needed.

Research Technician Salary and Outlook

Research technicians, which are categorized under medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earn a median annual salary of $51,770. highest paying employers include doctors’, drug merchants, and pharmaceutical companies. For those in the top 10 percent, the pay can go as high as more than $79,530 while for those in the bottom 10 percent, annual salaries may be $29,640 or less.

The BLS expects employment opportunities for research technicians to grow by 12 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is a faster rate of growth than what is projected for other occupations.

Required Education Bachelor’s degree
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 5% for biological technicians*
Median Salary (2021) $46,340 annually for biological technicians

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