A biology technician supports scientists in tests and experiments in the field of life sciences. A person in this position is often referred to as a laboratory assistant or technician, a biological technician or a biological aide. Her work normally takes place in universities and colleges, and the bulk of it takes place in laboratories. Some in this position may work for government or research organizations or in private sector food, drug and chemical processing environments.
This position requires skills in all aspects of laboratory operations. The technician is commonly required to gather all the materials a scientist needs to conduct experiments. Depending on the nature of the research, this may require her to collect substances from other laboratories and industries or from the environment. Typical materials required to conduct trials include samples of animal flesh or fur and human or animal blood. Other research projects may necessitate the collection of soil, water and certain types of drugs or food.
She is typically expected to have the correct tools to gather clean samples for transport in sterile containers. If the materials require storage for future use, the technician is normally required to be cognizant of the proper procedures to be followed. Failing to properly handle or store samples may render the results of the experiment moot.
Other duties of a biology technician typically include calculating and analyzing the results of tests and preparing charts or graphs of the results for analysis by scientists. She may also be required to set up measuring and analytical devices for scientists to use in testing. At the end of the day, the person in this position is frequently responsible for cleaning the laboratory and its equipment.
If the biology technician is experienced and appears highly proficient in her work, the scientist for whom she works may permit her to conduct her own tests and trials. The scientist customarily oversees her work and often provides guidance or commentary on the research. Based on her performance, the technician may also be asked for her input on certain testing procedures and conclusions of the scientist for whom she works.
To obtain a job as a biology technician normally requires successful completion of a two-year program in laboratory technology at a college or technical institute. These programs may offer a general certification or provide the option to specialize in a specific biological science, such as plant or animal science. Some employers require a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related science. Most jobs also provide on-the-job training in the area of biology relevant to the position being offered.