What does a Laboratory Technician do?
A lab technician performs tests and analyses in a laboratory. Lab technicians work in a variety of different organizations, including healthcare institutions, manufacturing companies, and educational institutions. They work in different fields such as medicine, biology, environment, and electronics.
A lab technician's tasks differ greatly depending on the setting and the industry. For example, a medical lab technician collects samples and performs tests on body fluids and tissue to assist physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Other lab technicians may perform chemical, physical, or biological tests on products. The education needed for lab technicians depends on the role and industry. In some cases a high school degree or GED is sufficient, whereas for other roles an associate's degree, a certificate, or a Bachelor's degree are required.
- Perform routine and non-routine tests and analyses using the appropriate technical equipment and instruments
- Receive or collect, as well as process, samples
- Calculate test results, and log and report results using a computer
- Prepare and supervise experiments
- Perform quality control and calibrate equipment if necessary
- Maintain equipment in proper working order and maintain a clean work area
- Practice safe work habits, including complying with all safety, health, and environmental rules and regulations
- High school diploma or general education degree (GED) required, associate's or Bachelor's degree in a scientific field preferred
- 1-2 years of experience working in a lab
- Computer skills: knowledge of Microsoft Office and other relevant computer programs
- Analytical and numerical skills: ability to perform mathematical calculations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) in different units of measurement; ability to use concepts such as fractions, percentages, and ratios
- Strong attention to detail
- Ability to write correspondence and reports
- Excellent organizational skills
- Ability to perform physically demanding work such as moving and lifting equipment, standing for long periods of time, etc.
How much does a Laboratory Technician make?
Laboratory Technician Career Path
Learn how to become a Laboratory Technician, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Years of Experience Distribution
Laboratory Technician Insights
“I really liked alot of my coworkers and for the most part everyone was supportive and helpful.”
“Training felt hurried and incomplete; I felt unequipped with the skills needed to do my job.”
“The job was great because everyone was so nice and it started at $17.71 per hour.”
“Very flexible work schedule which is great if you have a family or taking college classes.”
“Furloughing is sneaky and promised a benefit package but I got nothing as I was per diem at that time.”
“Worst place to work and they laid off so many people because they went downhill.”
“There is minimal career advancement unless you kiss backside and don't speak up about issues within the company.”
“I've also been able to take classes here for free and enjoyed great job security.”
Laboratory Technician Interviews
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of lab technicians
The typical day of a lab technician includes performing tests using analytical equipment and carefully recording the results for further analysis. Lab technicians follow detailed instructions from their supervisor, who is typically a senior scientist. These technicians are also responsible for maintaining their lab equipment and workspace.
Lab technician job satisfaction will likely be high for those who are highly organized and enjoy detailed-oriented analytical work. Lab technicians may enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from playing a crucial role in developing new medications, diagnosing diseases, or performing critical scientific research.
The average salary for lab technicians is $42,468. Medical equipment manufacturing, specialty hospitals, and general and surgical hospitals are the highest-paying industries for this profession. Senior lab technicians typically command the highest salaries. You can climb the ladder in this career by continuing your education and gaining experience.
Working as a lab technician requires exceptional attention to detail. It's critical that these professionals properly complete each step of a task. One of the challenges of being a lab technician is maintaining patience, attentiveness, and organization. Carelessness and errors are more catastrophic for a lab technician than for many other professionals.