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How to become a Lab Technician

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Lab Technician

Assisting in the running and functions of laboratories

 

What do Lab Technicians do?

 

Lab Technician roles can vary hugely depending on the industry and organisation you’re employed with. You could be carrying out tests and experiments, providing support and assisting with research and design, production or teaching.

You might also be responsible for maintaining lab tools and equipment, recording data, setting up for experiments, or performing inspections of and calibrating and maintaining test equipment. There are opportunities to work in many industry areas from chemistry and earth sciences, to life sciences and physical sciences.

If you enjoy maths and science, have fantastic attention to detail, are patient and great at working as part of a team, becoming a Lab Technician could be a career goal to aim for.

 

About you:

 

  • Meticulous approach to work, thorough, accurate and detail-oriented
  • Highly organised and methodical when running tests, prepping or ordering in supplies
  • Able to multitask effectively but focus when required
  • Good hand-eye coordination and dexterity for using the equipment, safely handling samples and testing
  • Excellent numeracy skills for both running tests and creating reports
  • High level communication skills, especially written. Required for clear and concise recording of results, report writing and creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
  • You must be able to work well and communicate effectively as part of a team, which could sometimes be extremely large.
The job:

 

The specific duties you’ll have to do will vary depending on where you’re employed, and the kind of work being carried out there.

You will always have to be able to follow strict rules, guidelines, protocols or regulations no matter where you work.

Examples of work include:

  • Collect and prepare samples, specimens and equipment for experiments
  • Carry out or supervise experiments and tests
  • Record precise and accurate results
  • Calculate, compute, collate and present results in graphic and written formats, e.g. charts, maps, sketches, diagrams and reports
  • Cleaning of the lab and equipment
  • Perform routine maintenance and calibration of laboratory equipment
  • Create reports and operating procedures based on experiments and other lab-based activities
  • Supervise junior lab workers and support other professionals with their work
  • Carry out stocktakes, order in supplies, do inspections

 

Lifestyle Impact: Low

 

  • Part Time opportunities: Average – around one in three (29%) Lab Technicians work part-time (source: joboutlook.gov.au)
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 43 hours a week (source: joboutlook.gov.au)
  • Lab Technicians salary (average) $75,000* per year (source: com.au)

*salaries vary between industries, your role, and depending on your skills and experience

  • Future career growth: Stable overall, but strong in some industries e.g. Medical (source: joboutlook.gov.au & seek.com.au)
  • In some roles you may be able to rotate between labs, learn new skills and techniques opening up a range of new opportunities. You may need work flexible hours to set up experiments, see them through until they’re done, or clean up afterwards. It’s unlikely that you will be able to work from home.

 

Lab Technicians are most in demand in these locations

 

Most Lab technicians work within these industries:

  • Education and training
  • Professional, Scientific and technical services
  • Manufacturing

The majority of jobs are in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

 

How to become a Lab Technician in Australia

 

You’ll most likely need a formal qualification to gain employment as a Lab Technician.

It is possible to work in this field without formal qualifications, but you’ll need to have extensive work experience under your belt; and you may have to compete with applicants who have formal qualifications.

 

Step 1 – Obtain your high school certificate; doing subjects like chemistry, biology, and advanced math could really help you out. English will be a requirement in any role, and you could consider IT as well.

 

Step 2 – Complete a relevant VET or tertiary qualification, e.g.:

Certificate III in Laboratory Skills

Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques

Diploma of Laboratory Technology

Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Laboratory Medicine) at RMIT

Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science at Griffith

Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (Honours) at JCU

You could also consider applying for a Traineeship or Apprenticeship, where you’ll receive a VET qualification, work experience and be paid a salary. This also has the added advantage of being able to network and showcase your abilities, meaning you could end up with a job once you’re qualified.

 

Step 3 – Obtain licensing and other certification if they’re required. For example, if you’re working in schools you may need a working with children check and police check. If you work in a lab with dangerous chemicals, then you may need a handling license.

 

Step 4 – Gain work experience, continue your education and specialise into an area that interests you, or pursue roles in research, product development, and administration or management.

 

Find out more here –

https://www.aims.org.au/

https://seta.edu.au/

http://www.sciencevictoria.com.au/labtech/index.html

https://www.aacb.asn.au/

 

Similar Careers to Lab Technician

 

Pathology Collector

Forensic Scientist

Medical Laboratory Technician

Dental Technician

Biologist

Chemist

Sonographer

Radiographer

Technician

 

Find out more about alternative careers.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

What do Lab Technicians do?

Laboratory Technicians perform procedures, run experiments, maintain equipment, and assist other scientists with their work.

 

What career advance opportunities are available to Lab Technicians?

You could, with some additional training or experience, move into other roles including research and development, administration or management.

 

What industries employ Lab Technicians?

Lots of industries need Lab Technicians – Education, Medical, Pharmaceutical, Agriculture, Aquaculture, Public Safety, Forensics, Manufacturing, Chemical; the list goes on.

 

Do I need to go to university to become a Lab Technician?

You don’t have to get any formal qualifications to work as a Lab Technician, but you could be limiting your opportunities without them. If you go to uni, you might be able to specialise earlier in life and work in more senior positions faster.

 

Where do Lab Technicians work?

Laboratory Technicians work in many settings such including hospitals, medical laboratories, schools, in the police and forensics, manufacturing plants and even out in the field.

 

What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Lab Technician?

If you’re at high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Lab Technician is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:

  1. Work on your technology skills
  2. Practise being organised and flexible
  3. Develop hobbies that require lots of focus, patience and repetitive tasks – cooking, painting, woodwork, or body building are just a few ideas.
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