Laboratory technician

Lab technician

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Laboratory technicians support scientists and help carry out tests, research and investigations.

Salary range: £15,000 to £30,000

How to become a laboratory technician

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship

University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree course in:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • forensic science

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 3 A levels or equivalent

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College

You could take a college course, like a Level 2 Certificate or Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science to help improve your chances of finding work.

Chemistry, Physics and Biology A levels are also useful.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as a laboratory technician.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science

More information

More information

Career tips

Experience in a lab can help when looking for work. You can get this by:

  • doing a year in industry as part of your degree
  • applying for part-time work in a laboratory whilst studying

Professional and industry bodies

You can join a professional body relevent to your area of work for career development and training opportunities.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a laboratory technician from the Science Council and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • knowledge of biology
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others
  • administration skills
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • setting up experiments and investigations
  • carrying out risk assessments
  • collecting and analysing samples
  • preparing solutions, cultures or specimens
  • recording and presenting data
  • ordering and controlling stock
  • disposing of chemicals and waste products safely
  • cleaning and maintaining equipment

Working environment

You could work in a laboratory.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to team manager or lab supervisor, or specialise in complex analysis work.

With a degree and experience you could move into a research technician role.

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