Summary Report for:
19-4021.00 - Biological Technicians
Assist biological and medical scientists. Set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, monitor experiments, collect data and samples, 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 Science Lab Tech), Biological Science Technician, Biological Technician, Laboratory Technician, Marine Fisheries Technician, Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Specialist, Research Technician, Wildlife Biology Technician
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | 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.
- Use computers, computer-interfaced equipment, robotics or high-technology industrial applications to perform work duties.
- Monitor and observe experiments, recording production and test data for evaluation by research personnel.
- Analyze experimental data and interpret results to write reports and summaries of findings.
- Provide technical support and services for scientists and engineers working in fields such as agriculture, environmental science, resource management, biology, and health sciences.
- Keep detailed logs of all work-related activities.
- Input data into databases.
- Isolate, identify and prepare specimens for examination.
- Set up, adjust, calibrate, clean, maintain, and troubleshoot laboratory and field equipment.
- Clean, maintain and prepare supplies and work areas.
- Monitor laboratory work to ensure compliance with set standards.
- Place orders for laboratory equipment and supplies.
- Participate in the research, development, or manufacturing of medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations.
- Feed livestock or laboratory animals.
- 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.
- Measure or weigh compounds and solutions for use in testing or animal feed.
- Conduct or supervise operational programs, such as fish hatcheries, greenhouses and livestock production programs.
- Analytical or scientific software — BD Biosciences CellQuest; Gene Codes Sequencher; Laboratory information management system LIMS; SAS (see all 15 examples)
- Data base user interface and query software — Database software; Microsoft Access ; Thomson EndNote
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop ; Graphics software; Harvard Graphics
- Map creation software — ESRI ArcGIS software ; Geographic information system GIS software ; MapInfo MapMarker
- Office suite software — Corel WordPerfect; Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Project management software — Microsoft Project
- Spreadsheet software — IBM Lotus 1-2-3; Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Outlook ; Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- 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
- Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- 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.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- 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.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- 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.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- 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).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- 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.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- 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.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- 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.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- 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.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Collect biological specimens.
- Monitor operational procedures in technical environments to ensure conformance to standards.
- Interpret research or operational data.
- Research microbiological or chemical processes or structures.
- Record research or operational data.
- Prepare biological samples for testing or analysis.
- Set up laboratory or field equipment.
- Clean objects.
- Care for plants or animals.
- Analyze chemical compounds or substances.
- Examine characteristics or behavior of living organisms.
- Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
- Manage agricultural or forestry operations.
- Electronic Mail — 85% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 36% responded “Very important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 83% responded “Every day.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 54% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 44% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 22% responded “Important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 54% responded “Some freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 63% responded “Some freedom.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 31% responded “More than half the time.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Time Pressure — 56% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 55% responded “About half the time.”
- Level of Competition — 39% responded “Moderately competitive.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 28% responded “Not important at all.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 19% responded “High responsibility.”
- Letters and Memos — 39% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Physical Proximity — 50% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 45% responded “Limited responsibility.”
- Telephone — 63% 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 real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Interest code: RIC Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- 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.
- 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.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- 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.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- 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 (2020)||$22.28 hourly, $46,340 annual|
|Employment (2020)||87,600 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||11,800|
|Top industries (2020)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). "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.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry
- American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
- American Chemical Society
- American Fisheries Society
- American Institute of Biological Sciences
- American Society for Cell Biology
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- American Society for Microbiology
- Association of Genetic Technologists
- Botanical Society of America
- Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
- Institute of Food Technologists
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Biological technicians
- Wildlife Society