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Become A Laboratory Animal Technician

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Working As A Laboratory Animal Technician

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • $52,363

    Average Salary

What Does A Laboratory Animal Technician Do

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

Duties

Biological technicians typically do the following:

  • Set up, maintain, and clean laboratory instruments and equipment, such as microscopes, scales, and test tubes
  • Gather and prepare biological samples, such as blood, food, and bacteria cultures, for laboratory analysis
  • Conduct biological tests and experiments 
  • Document their work, including procedures, observations, and results
  • Analyze experimental data and interpret results
  • Write reports that summarize their findings

Most biological technicians work on teams. Biological technicians typically are responsible for doing scientific tests, experiments, and analyses under the supervision of biologists or other scientists who direct and evaluate their work. Biological technicians use traditional laboratory instruments, advanced robotics, and automated equipment to conduct experiments. They use specialized computer software to collect, analyze, and model experimental data. Some biological technicians collect samples in the field, so they may need certain skills, such as the ability to hike long distances over sometimes rugged terrain to collect water samples.

Biological technicians work in many research areas. They may assist medical researchers by helping to develop new medicines and treatments used to prevent, treat, or cure diseases.

Biological technicians working in a microbiological context, sometimes referred to as laboratory assistants, typically study living microbes and perform techniques specific to microbiology, such as growing cultures in petri dishes or staining specimens to aid in their identification.

Technicians working in biotechnology apply the knowledge and techniques they have gained from basic research to product development.  

Biological technicians also may work in private industry and assist in the study of a wide range of topics concerning mining and industrial production. They may test samples in environmental impact studies, or monitor production processes to help ensure that products are not contaminated.

Biological technicians working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture or other government agencies may perform biological testing to support agricultural research and wildlife and resource management goals.

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How To Become A Laboratory Animal Technician

Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. It is important for prospective biological technicians to gain laboratory experience while they are in school.

Education

Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. Most colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in the biological sciences.

Biological science programs usually include courses in general biology, as well as in specific subfields such as ecology, microbiology, and physiology. In addition to taking courses in biology, students must study chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Computer science courses are helpful for learning how to model and simulate biological processes and for learning how to operate some laboratory equipment. 

Laboratory experience is important for prospective biological technicians, so students should take biology courses that emphasize laboratory work.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Biological technicians need to conduct scientific experiments and analyses with accuracy and precision.

Communication skills. Biological technicians must understand and follow the instructions of their managing scientists. They also need to be able to communicate their processes and findings clearly in written reports.

Critical-thinking skills. Biological technicians draw conclusions from experimental results through sound reasoning and judgment.

Observational skills. Biological technicians must constantly monitor their experiments. They need to keep a complete, accurate record of their work, including the conditions under which the experiment was carried out, the procedures they followed, and the results they obtained.

Technical skills. Biological technicians need to set up and operate sophisticated equipment and instruments. They also may need to adjust equipment to ensure that experiments are conducted properly.

Other Experience

Prospective biological technicians should have laboratory experience. In addition to coursework, students may gain laboratory experience during summer internships with prospective employers, such as pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers, or in university laboratories.

Advancement

Biological technicians may advance to scientist positions, such as microbiologist, after a few years of experience working as a technician or after earning a master’s degree or Ph.D. Gaining more experience and higher levels of education often allows biological technicians to move into positions such as natural sciences managers or postsecondary teachers.

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Laboratory Animal Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

63.0%

Male

34.8%

Unknown

2.2%
Ethnicity

White

61.5%

Hispanic or Latino

16.5%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

7.3%

Unknown

3.3%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

German

7.9%

French

7.9%

Chinese

5.3%

Japanese

5.3%

Cantonese

5.3%

Russian

5.3%

Korean

5.3%

Swahili

2.6%

Dutch

2.6%

Mandarin

2.6%
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Laboratory Animal Technician Education

Schools

Colorado State University

8.9%

University of Connecticut

7.8%

North Carolina State University

6.7%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

6.7%

University of Delaware

6.7%

University of Vermont

5.6%

Purdue University

5.6%

University of Maryland - University College

4.4%

Harcum College

4.4%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.4%

Tuskegee University

4.4%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

4.4%

Community College of Philadelphia

4.4%

Mount Ida College

4.4%

University of Maryland - College Park

4.4%

University of Florida

3.3%

Boston University

3.3%

Kirkwood Community College

3.3%

Columbus State Community College

3.3%

Becker College

3.3%
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Majors

Biology

23.0%

Animal Science

15.7%

Medical Assisting Services

10.1%

Business

7.0%

Veterinary Science

6.2%

Environmental Science

3.7%

Zoology

3.7%

Psychology

3.7%

Veterinary Medicine

3.1%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

2.8%

Health Care Administration

2.8%

Public Health

2.2%

Education

2.2%

Biotechnology

2.2%

Microbiology

2.0%

Biomedical Sciences

2.0%

Nursing

2.0%

Management

2.0%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

2.0%

Pharmacy

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.5%

Other

21.3%

Masters

13.8%

Associate

13.4%

Certificate

4.0%

Doctorate

4.0%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.2%
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Top Skills for A Laboratory Animal Technician

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  1. Animal Care
  2. Technical Procedures
  3. Mice
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed animal care duties for weekend and holiday coverage for all medical campus animal laboratory facilities while attending school.
  • Executed technical procedures that include animal identification, weaning, breeding, and euthanasia.
  • Conducted daily blood glucose monitoring and administered insulin to diabetic research mice.
  • Monitored room temperature, airflow, humidity, and light cycles to ensure a regulated environment.
  • Performed euthanasia of animals in accordance with the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, per veterinarian and/or investigator.

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