Education

Laboratory technician

Laboratory technicians support scientists and help carry out tests, research and investigations.

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40

1%
Future employment

There will be 1% more Laboratory technician jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • setting up experiments and investigations
  • carrying out risk assessments
  • collecting and analysing samples
  • preparing solutions, cultures or specimens
  • recording and presenting data
  • ordering and controlling stock
  • disposing of chemicals and waste products safely
  • cleaning and maintaining equipment

University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree course in:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • forensic science

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science
  • 3 A levels or equivalent

College

You could take a college course, like a Level 2 Certificate or Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science to help improve your chances of finding work.

Chemistry, Physics and Biology A levels are also useful.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as a laboratory technician.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths and science

£15,000 to £30,000

Starter salary: £15,000

Experienced salary: £20,000 to £25,000

These figures are a guide.

35 to 40

You'll usually work 37 hours a week. You may work shifts on a rota.

Work usually takes place in sterile conditions. You'll wear clothing to protect you from dangerous substances and to prevent contamination of samples.

In some industries, you may need to travel for field work.

Experience in a lab can help when looking for work. You can get this by:

  • doing a year in industry as part of your degree
  • applying for part-time work in a laboratory whilst studying

With experience, you could progress to team manager or lab supervisor, or specialise in complex analysis work.

With a degree and experience you could move into a research technician role.

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.


Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • knowledge of biology
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others
  • administration skills
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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