Summary Report for:
19-4021.00 - Biological Technicians
Assist biological and medical scientists in laboratories. Set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, monitor experiments, make observations, and calculate and record results. May analyze organic substances, such as blood, food, and drugs.
Sample of reported job titles: Biological Science Laboratory Technician, Biological Technician, Environmental Technician, Laboratory Technician, Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Specialist, Research Technician, Resource Biologist, Wildlife Biology Technician
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Conduct research or assist in the conduct of research, including the collection of information and samples, such as blood, water, soil, plants and animals.
- Analyze experimental data and interpret results to write reports and summaries of findings.
- Keep detailed logs of all work-related activities.
- Use computers, computer-interfaced equipment, robotics or high-technology industrial applications to perform work duties.
- Clean, maintain and prepare supplies and work areas.
- Set up, adjust, calibrate, clean, maintain, and troubleshoot laboratory and field equipment.
- Measure or weigh compounds and solutions for use in testing or animal feed.
- Isolate, identify and prepare specimens for examination.
- Conduct standardized biological, microbiological or biochemical tests and laboratory analyses to evaluate the quantity or quality of physical or chemical substances in food or other products.
- Examine animals and specimens to detect the presence of disease or other problems.
- Participate in the research, development, or manufacturing of medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations.
- Monitor laboratory work to ensure compliance with set standards.
- Provide technical support and services for scientists and engineers working in fields such as agriculture, environmental science, resource management, biology, and health sciences.
- Monitor and observe experiments, recording production and test data for evaluation by research personnel.
- Feed livestock or laboratory animals.
- Conduct or supervise operational programs such as fish hatcheries, greenhouses and livestock production programs.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Amino acid analyzers
- Anaerobic chamber — Anaerobic growth chambers
- Analytical balances
- Benchtop centrifuges — Centrifuges
- Beta gamma counters — Radioactive counters
- Bi distillation units — Distillation equipment
- Binocular light compound microscopes — Dissection microscopes
- Complementary deoxyribonucleic acid cDNA synthesis kits — Deoxyribonucleic acid DNA synthesizers
- Conductivity meters
- Cryogenic or liquid nitrogen freezers — Liquid nitrogen freezers
- Dehydrators — Vacuum dehydration units
- Deoxyribonucleic sequence analyzers — Deoxyribonucleic acid DNA sequencers; Inherit sequencing analysis systems
- Drying cabinets or ovens — Drying ovens
- Electronic multichannel pipetters — Multichannel pipetters
- Electrophoresis system power supplies — Electrophorators
- Forced air or mechanical convection general purpose incubators — Incubators
- Fume hoods or cupboards — Biological containment hoods
- Gas chromatographs — Gas chromatographs GC
- Gel boxes — Electrophoresis boxes
- Gel filtration equipment — Gel chromatography equipment
- Histological staining apparatus — Automated tissue/slide stainers
- Hybridization ovens or incubators — Hybridization ovens
- Incubator accessories — Incubator microscopes
- Instrumentation for capillary electrophoresis — High-voltage electrophoresis apparatus
- Inverted microscopes — Light/tissue culture microscopes
- Ion selective electrode — Fluoride electrodes
- Laboratory balances — Balances
- Laboratory burets — Titration burets
- Laboratory mechanical convection ovens — Laboratory ovens
- Laboratory mixers — Agitators
- Laboratory washing machines — Glass washers
- Laser printers
- Manual or electronic hematology differential cell counters — Automated cell counters; Coulter counters; Hematology cell counters
- Microbiology analyzers — Bioanalyzers; Flow cytometers
- Microbiology inoculation loops or needles — Inoculating loops
- Microplate readers — Automated microplate ELISA readers
- Microplate washers
- Microtomes — Ultramicrotomes
- Multipurpose or general test tubes — Test tubes
- Notebook computers
- Personal computers
- Petri plates or dishes — Petri dishes
- pH meters
- Protein analyzers — Protein sequencers
- Rapid amplification or complementary deoxyribonucleic acid ends RACE technology products — Polymerase chain reaction PCR equipment
- Refrigerated and heated reach in environmental or growth chambers — Aerobic growth chambers
- Refrigerated benchtop centrifuges — Refrigerated centrifuges
- Respirators — Full-face respirators
- Robotic or automated liquid handling systems — Automatic pipetters; Liquid handling robots; Robotic laboratory equipment
- Scanners — Imaging systems
- Shaking incubators — Microplate shakers
- Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters — Cytofluorographs; Fluorometers
- Steam autoclaves or sterilizers — Autoclaves; Sterilizers
- Stirring hotplates
- Temperature cycling chambers or thermal cyclers — Polymerase chain reaction PCR thermocyclers
- Tissue embedding stations — Paraffin embedding consoles
- Transilluminators — Gel imaging apparatus
- Ultra cold or ultralow upright cabinets or freezers — Ultralow freezers
- Ultra violet water purification units — Ultraviolet water purification systems
- Ultrasonic cleaning equipment — Ultrasonic cleaners
- Volumetric pipettes — Volumetric glassware
- Water baths — Waterbaths
- Water jacketed single chamber three gas incubators — Water jacketed incubators
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — BD Biosciences CellQuest; Gene Codes Sequencher; PolyBayes software; Systat Software Table Curve (see all 15 examples)
- Data base user interface and query software — Database software; Microsoft Access ; Thomson EndNote
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat software
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop software ; Graphics software; Harvard Graphics software
- Map creation software — ESRI ArcGIS software ; MapInfo MapMarker
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Project management software — Microsoft Project
- Spreadsheet software — IBM Lotus 1-2-3; Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Corel WordPerfect software; Microsoft Outlook ; Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Detailed Work Activities
- Record research or operational data.
- Research microbiological or chemical processes or structures.
- Interpret research or operational data.
- Analyze chemical compounds or substances.
- Monitor operational procedures in technical environments to ensure conformance to standards.
- Clean objects.
- Set up laboratory or field equipment.
- Manage agricultural or forestry operations.
- Prepare biological samples for testing or analysis.
- Collect biological specimens.
- Examine characteristics or behavior of living organisms.
- Care for plants or animals.
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 90% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 64% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 57% responded “Extremely important.”
- Electronic Mail — 54% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 49% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 41% responded “Some freedom.”
- Contact With Others — 41% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 36% responded “Very important.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 37% responded “Moderate results.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 37% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Telephone — 34% responded “Every day.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Time Pressure — 38% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 45% responded “Very serious.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 33% responded “Very important.”
- Physical Proximity — 37% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 60% responded “About half the time.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 43% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 85% responded “40 hours.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 46% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, database administrators, teachers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|8||High school diploma or equivalent|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: RIC
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2015)||$20.02 hourly, $41,650 annual|
|Employment (2014)||79,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Average (5% to 8%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||26,300|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Biological technicians . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) , 410 N 21st St., Colorado Springs, CO 80904. Phone: (719) 636-1100. Fax: (719) 636-1993.
- American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) , Suite 200, 1444 I St. NW, Washington, DC 20005. Phone: (202) 628-1500. Fax: (202) 628-1509.
- American Society for Microbiology (ASM) , 1752 N St. NW, Washington, DC 20036-2804. Phone: (202) 737-3600.
- Botanical Society of America (BSA) , P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299. Phone: (314) 577-9566. Fax: (314) 577-9515.
- Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) , 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814. Phone: (301) 634-7000.