How to Be Laboratory Technician - Job Description, Skills, and Interview Questions

Laboratory technicians are a key component of the scientific research process, as they are responsible for conducting tests and experiments in order to analyze data and draw conclusions. Their work helps researchers gain a better understanding of natural phenomena and the effects of various substances on organisms. As a result, laboratory technicians help to make scientific breakthroughs that can lead to new treatments, cures, and technologies. Furthermore, their work can also be used to develop improved safety standards for products and processes, ensuring the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Steps How to Become

  1. Earn a High School Diploma or GED. Many employers require laboratory technicians to have a high school diploma or GED.
  2. Consider Postsecondary Education. An associate's degree in a related field such as medical laboratory technology can make potential laboratory technicians more attractive to employers.
  3. Get Experience. Many employers prefer to hire laboratory technicians who have some experience in the field. This can be obtained through volunteer work, internships, or part-time jobs.
  4. Become Certified. Depending on the state, a laboratory technician may need to become certified or licensed. Certification is usually obtained through national organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS).
  5. Get on-the-job Training. Most laboratories provide on-the-job training for new laboratory technicians. The length and intensity of this training may vary depending on the employer.

Laboratory technician is a profession that requires both technical skill and competency. Becoming a skilled and competent laboratory technician requires dedication to learning the necessary knowledge and practice of laboratory techniques. A comprehensive understanding of laboratory-related topics such as chemistry, biology, and physics is essential.

Furthermore, individuals must stay current with the latest advancements in laboratory technologies. Professional development courses, such as those offered by organizations like the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), are beneficial for staying up to date on current trends in the field. A combination of education, experience, and continuing education is important for achieving and maintaining a high level of proficiency in the field.

With the proper training and development, individuals can become highly skilled and competent laboratory technicians.

You may want to check Laboratory Technician II, Laboratory Assistant, and Laboratory Scientist for alternative.

Job Description

  1. Set up, operate and maintain laboratory equipment.
  2. Prepare sample materials for testing.
  3. Perform routine tests and analyze sample results.
  4. Record and analyze data from experiments and tests.
  5. Follow safety procedures and maintain laboratory safety standards.
  6. Calibrate laboratory equipment according to manufacturerÂ’s specifications.
  7. Assist in the development of new testing procedures and protocols.
  8. Assist scientists in research activities and experiments.
  9. Monitor inventory of laboratory supplies and order materials as needed.
  10. Clean and sterilize laboratory equipment and instruments.

Skills and Competencies to Have

  1. Knowledge of laboratory safety protocols
  2. Knowledge of laboratory equipment and operations
  3. Ability to read and understand technical instructions
  4. Ability to accurately follow detailed instructions
  5. Good organizational and time-management skills
  6. Excellent attention to detail
  7. Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  8. Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems
  9. Proficiency in using computers and scientific software
  10. Knowledge of relevant scientific principles and processes
  11. Ability to maintain accurate records and documentation
  12. Ability to work with hazardous materials and hazardous waste disposal

Having strong problem-solving and analytical skills is essential for a Laboratory Technician to be successful. Being able to think on one's feet and analyze a problem quickly can help a technician identify issues and develop solutions quickly. having an understanding of the scientific processes and principles at work in a laboratory is important in order to properly interpret results and draw accurate conclusions.

A Laboratory Technician should also have good organizational skills, as they often need to keep track of multiple tests, experiments and results at the same time. Good communication skills are also important, as technicians often need to interact with other scientists and laboratory personnel. Lastly, Laboratory Technicians must be detail-oriented, as even the smallest mistake can lead to inaccurate results.

Having strong problem-solving, analytical, organizational, communication and detail-oriented skills are all essential for a successful Laboratory Technician.

Medical Laboratory Technician, Research Laboratory Technician, and Laboratory Manager are related jobs you may like.

Frequent Interview Questions

  • What experience do you have as a Laboratory Technician?
  • What is your understanding of laboratory safety protocols?
  • What experience do you have with laboratory equipment?
  • Describe a time when you had to troubleshoot an issue with laboratory equipment.
  • How do you ensure accurate and precise results in laboratory tests?
  • Are you familiar with the correct disposal of hazardous materials?
  • What are your thoughts on the importance of record keeping in a laboratory?
  • How do you handle difficult situations in the laboratory?
  • How do you stay up to date with new technologies and scientific advancements in the lab?
  • What strategies do you use to stay organized and efficient in a laboratory environment?

Common Tools in Industry

  1. Microscope. Used to view objects or specimens too small to be seen by the naked eye (eg: Viewing cells in a blood sample).
  2. Pipette. Used to measure and transfer very small amounts of liquid (eg: Pipetting samples for DNA sequencing).
  3. Centrifuge. A machine that spins samples at high speed to separate components by density (eg: Separating red blood cells from plasma).
  4. Hot Plate/Stirrer. A device used to heat and stir samples (eg: Heating and stirring a suspension of cells).
  5. Autoclave. An instrument used to sterilize equipment and materials by exposing them to steam under pressure (eg: Sterilizing glassware before culturing cells).
  6. pH Meter. A device used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a solution (eg: Measuring the pH of a nutrient broth).
  7. Balance. A device used to accurately measure the weight of a sample (eg: Weighing chemicals for a reaction).

Professional Organizations to Know

  1. American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS)
  2. American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC)
  3. National Society for Histotechnology (NSH)
  4. Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA)
  5. Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)
  6. Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT)
  7. International Clinical Cytometry Society (ICCS)
  8. International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER)
  9. American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
  10. American Medical Technologists (AMT)

We also have Laboratory Instructor, Clinical Laboratory Technician, and Laboratory Supervisor jobs reports.

Common Important Terms

  1. Microbiology. The study of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.
  2. Bacteriology. The study of bacteria and their relationship to human health and diseases.
  3. Immunology. The study of the immune system and its response to foreign substances.
  4. Virology. The study of viruses and their effects on living organisms.
  5. Cell Culture. The process of growing and maintaining cells in a laboratory environment for research purposes.
  6. Clinical Chemistry. The use of chemical tests to diagnose and monitor diseases.
  7. Molecular Biology. The study of the structure and function of molecules involved in biological processes.
  8. Serology. The study of blood serum and its components to diagnose and monitor diseases.
  9. Hematology. The study of blood cells and blood-related disorders.
  10. Cytology. The study of cells, their structure, and function.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications are required to become a Laboratory Technician?

Most Laboratory Technicians need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, and many employers prefer applicants who have completed some form of postsecondary education in medical laboratory technology, such as an associate degree or certificate program.

What is the job outlook for Laboratory Technicians?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13 percent growth in employment of Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians between 2018 and 2028.

What is the average annual salary of a Laboratory Technician?

The median annual salary for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians, as of May 2019, was $51,770 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What types of duties do Laboratory Technicians perform?

Typical duties for a Laboratory Technician include collecting and preparing samples for testing, analyzing samples using laboratory instruments, documenting and recording results, and troubleshooting equipment problems.

What type of work environment do Laboratory Technicians typically work in?

Laboratory Technicians usually work in clinical or hospital laboratories, private doctor's offices, research laboratories, or pharmaceutical companies. They may also be employed in industrial or environmental settings, such as water treatment plants.

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