Laboratory Technician

Laboratory technicians in local councils work in two main areas: education, where they work in schools and colleges, and in public protection, where they work in support of departments such as environmental health and trading standards.  Laboratory technicians may also be known as science technicians.

Work Environment
Technicians spend most of their time working in laboratories.  They may be required to wear protective clothing such as face masks, eye protection, gloves and overalls.  Most technicians work a standard 37-hour week, Monday to Friday.  Some may work a shift rota, including weekends, to provide 24-hour technical cover.

Daily Activities
Laboratory technicians may be involved in a wide range of tasks:

  • cleaning and repairing scientific equipment such as test tubes and flasks;
  • calibrating complex electronic measuring devices;
  • monitoring stock levels of laboratory materials and ordering new stock as required;
  • setting up, conducting and monitoring tests and experiments;
  • analysing samples and interpreting the results;
  • recording the results of tests and experiments on computer;
  • reporting findings in official reports;
  • supervising more junior staff and managing the laboratory if appropriate to the role and level of the job.

Additionally, those working in schools may be involved in the following:

  • setting up equipment for tests and experiments before the start of classes and clearing away afterwards;
  • providing technical advice to teachers and students.

Skills & Interests
Laboratory technicians need to be:

  • methodical, with good observational skills;
  • thorough and accurate in recording the results of tests and experiments;
  • aware of health and safety requirements, for example, understanding rules for the safe storage and use of hazardous materials, such as acid and other chemicals;
  • adaptable and up-to-date with new technologies and methods;
  • good communicators;
  • competent users of ICT.

Entry Requirements
Minimum entry requirements may be four GCSEs/S grades (A*-C/1-3) or equivalent. However, often, previous science or technical experience may be more of an advantage. Other relevant entry qualifications may include:

  • BTEC/SQA awards in science subjects, for example, a BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Science;
  • qualifications via The Institute of Science Technology;
  • N/SVQs such as Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities or Laboratory Technicians: Working in Education.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
With experience and further qualifications, laboratory technicians may advance into teaching, research, and supervisory roles.

Further Information & Services
British Science Association
The Association for Science Education
The Institute of Science & Technology
The Royal Society

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

Careers Wales have produced a Spotlight article on careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths):  

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