Science Technicians Job Description, Career as a Science Technicians, Salary, Employment
Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training: College
Salary: Median— $50,333 per year
Employment Outlook: Fair
Science technicians play a major role in applying the principles and theories of science and mathematics to solve problems occurring in research and development processes. They are responsible for setting up laboratory equipment and monitoring experiments. Science technicians monitoring manufacturing processes are also required to ensure product quality by carrying out random product tests.
Science technicians can specialize in a variety of fields and their titles are similar to those of the scientists they assist. Agricultural and food science technicians work alongside scientists to conduct research and development on agricultural products. Biological technicians work with biologists to study living organisms. Those who work in pharmaceutical companies help in the development and manufacture of medicines.
Science technicians can also specialize in specific areas such as forensic science and nuclear technology. Forensic science technicians are responsible for the collection and analysis of evidence from crime scenes. They can also act as expert witnesses during trials. Nuclear technicians operate research equipment and assist nuclear engineers and physicists.
Education and Training Requirements
An associate’s degree or a certificate in applied science is generally necessary for most science technicians jobs. Forensic science technicians and biological science technicians, however, require a bachelor’s degree in the related field. However, depending on the job and employer, it is possible for those without college degrees to start working as trainees.
Most employers prefer applicants with at least two years of specialized training, or an associate’s degree in applied science. Science technicians are required to have hands-on training. Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs in laboratory-oriented courses, with some kind of internship or summer job experience, are highly valued by employers.
People who are interested in science technician careers need to take as many science courses and laboratory-based training programs as possible to avail themselves of better employment opportunities. A solid background in mathematics, applied chemistry, and physics is vital for science technicians.
Communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team are highly valued traits in science technicians. They are also required to have an analytical mind and the ability to correctly interpret scientific data.
Getting the Job
Science technicians are in demand at laboratories and manufacturing units. Job recruitment listings are published in employment journals and on websites. Jobs can also be acquired during the internship or summer training period.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Science technicians may start out as trainees under the supervision of trained technicians. On gaining adequate experience, they can progress to the level of supervisors and take on additional responsibilities.
Science technicians employed at universities generally have their job prospects tied with the professors they assist. In the event of retirement or resignation of the professor, technicians may face uncertain employment prospects.
Job prospects for science technicians are expected to grow as fast as the average rate for other occupations in the coming years. However, the demand of science technicians will depend on areas of specialization. Jobs for forensic science technicians, and environmental science and protection technicians are expected to grow at a much faster rate than other fields.
Working conditions for science technicians vary greatly. Production technicians and others working in laboratories have fixed working hours. However, science technicians specializing in areas such as agriculture, environmental science, geology, and petroleum, are required to work outdoors and often in remote conditions.
Science technicians need to be adept at handling sophisticated laboratory equipments. Some technicians, such as nuclear and chemical technicians, are often exposed to hazardous chemicals and substances. It is imperative for them to observe stringent safety protocols. Forensic science technicians may find collection of evidence from crime scene very unpleasant and distressing at times.
Where to Go for More Information
American Chemical Society
Education Division, Career Publications
Washington, DC 20036
American Academy of Forensic Sciences
P.O. Box 669
Colorado Springs, CO, 80901
Society of American Foresters
5400 Grosvenor Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814
Earnings and Benefits
The annual salaries for science technicians vary greatly and depend on their educational qualification, prior experience, and training. In 2007, the median annual salary for science technicians working under the Federal Government was $50,333.83. However, it is meteorological technicians, with a median annual salary of $63,396, who are the highest paid among the various other specializations.
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