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Laboratory technician

Laboratory technicians carry out tests on samples for scientific research, product development and medical diagnosis.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £28,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: weekends; on shifts

0.5%
Future employment

There will be 0.5% more Laboratory technician jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a laboratory technician, you could:

  • set up experiments and investigations
  • prepare solutions, cultures and specimens
  • analyse samples using scientific instruments
  • collect and present data and statistics
  • calibrate, clean and maintain equipment, and follow safety rules

Possible green job

This job could help the environment.

For a laboratory technician to be a green job, you could:

  • work with scientists to develop more energy efficient products
  • test soil and water samples to check for toxins and pollutants
  • analyse data from crop experiments to limit the effects of pests and diseases

Find out more about green careers

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in a laboratory, at a university or at a manufacturing plant.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
University

You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a scientific subject to work as a laboratory technician.

Subjects include:

  • biomedical science
  • environmental science
  • forensic science
  • materials science
  • pharmacy
  • biology, chemistry or physics

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
For more information
College

You could take a college course to help improve your chances of finding a trainee lab assistant position.

You could do a course such as:

  • applied science
  • environmental science
  • chemistry, physics or biology
  • T Level in Science

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T Level
For more information
Apprenticeship

You could apply for a Laboratory Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship or a Technician Scientist Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship.

These apprenticeships can take between 2 and 3 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information
Direct application

You can apply for work as a lab technician if you have experience in a:

  • university research lab
  • clinical laboratory in a hospital
  • manufacturing or industrial research facility
  • school or college science department

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can register with a professional body linked 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.

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With experience, you could:become a lab supervisor or lab manager; specialise in complex analysis work; apply to become a Registered Science Technician to develop your career

You could also take further training at degree or postgraduate level to become a research scientist.

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

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

Opportunities are available with employers such as Specsavers


Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • science skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • maths knowledge
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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