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Become A Laboratory Researcher

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Working As A Laboratory Researcher

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • $53,374

    Average Salary

What Does A Laboratory Researcher 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 Researcher

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 Researcher Demographics

Gender

Male

51.4%

Female

41.2%

Unknown

7.4%
Ethnicity

White

48.5%

Asian

22.3%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

8.4%

Unknown

5.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.0%

Chinese

11.6%

French

9.5%

Mandarin

7.4%

German

3.7%

Cantonese

3.7%

Hindi

3.2%

Italian

3.2%

Russian

2.6%

Portuguese

2.6%

Japanese

2.1%

Vietnamese

1.6%

Korean

1.6%

Persian

1.6%

Arabic

1.6%

Marathi

1.1%

Hebrew

1.1%

Thai

1.1%

Gujarati

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%
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Laboratory Researcher Education

Schools

University of California - Irvine

8.9%

University of California - Berkeley

8.3%

Cornell University

7.8%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

6.8%

University of Texas at Austin

5.7%

Pennsylvania State University

4.7%

University of Southern California

4.7%

Purdue University

4.7%

Drexel University

4.7%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.7%

Syracuse University

4.2%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.2%

Ohio State University

4.2%

Columbia University

4.2%

University of California - Santa Cruz

4.2%

Washington University in Saint Louis

3.6%

University of Rochester

3.6%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

3.6%

Michigan State University

3.6%

Texas A&M University

3.6%
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Majors

Biology

18.0%

Chemistry

12.9%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

8.8%

Chemical Engineering

7.3%

Biomedical Engineering

6.5%

Mechanical Engineering

6.4%

Psychology

5.2%

Physics

4.5%

Microbiology

4.2%

Computer Science

3.6%

Electrical Engineering

3.3%

Computer Engineering

2.7%

Environmental Science

2.5%

Public Health

2.4%

Neuroscience

2.2%

Biotechnology

2.2%

Geology

2.1%

Food Science

1.9%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

1.8%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

53.8%

Masters

26.2%

Doctorate

9.4%

Other

8.5%

Associate

1.2%

Certificate

0.7%

License

0.1%
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Real Laboratory Researcher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Lab Researcher Accenture LLP Chicago, IL Jan 19, 2011 $100,000
Embryology Lab Researcher South Florida Institute of Reproductive Medicine, P.A. Miami, FL Aug 31, 2016 $60,000
Laboratory Researcher, Biochemistry Nulab, Inc. Clearwater, FL Jan 15, 2010 $50,000
Associate Lab Researcher Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Dallas, TX Sep 11, 2012 $47,000 -
$57,000
Staff Researcher (DNA) Genetic Testing Lab Reproductive Genetics Institute, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 14, 2010 $46,405 -
$66,000
Laboratory Researcher V National Jewish Health Denver, CO Jan 05, 2011 $45,802
DNA Laboratory Researcher Histogenetics Ossining, NY Oct 01, 2009 $45,000
Laboratory Researcher V National Jewish Health Denver, CO Jan 05, 2010 $42,760
Lab Researcher, Earth Science University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD Jan 31, 2014 $42,723
Clinical Laboratory Animal Researcher Dillon Animal Hospital, Inc. Dillon, SC Nov 30, 2009 $41,740
Clinical Laboratory Animal Behavior Researcher Dillon Animal Hospital, Inc. Dillon, SC Aug 30, 2009 $41,740
Clinical Laboratory Animal Behavior Researcher Dillon Animal Hospital, Inc. Dillon, SC Sep 15, 2009 $41,740
Lab Researcher, Earth Science University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD Jan 31, 2011 $40,643
Clinical Laboratory Animal Behavior Researcher Dillon Animal Hospital, Inc. Dillon, SC Aug 15, 2009 $38,025
Laboratory Researcher The Florida State University Tallahassee, FL Aug 04, 2016 $35,000
Laboratory Researcher The Florida State University Tallahassee, FL Feb 01, 2010 $35,000
Laboratory Researcher The Florida State University Tallahassee, FL Nov 20, 2009 $35,000
Research Lab Technian Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Dec 01, 2014 $34,000
Laboratory Researcher III National Jewish Health Denver, CO May 16, 2013 $33,915
Research Laboratory Technican Intermediate University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Jul 22, 2013 $33,000

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Top Skills for A Laboratory Researcher

  1. Research Lab
  2. Cell Culture
  3. DNA
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed recruitment by conducting interviews and evaluating candidates for the Dr. Petra Wilder-Smith research laboratory.
  • Assisted senior researchers in making collagen solution used with collagen-based scaffolds for cell culture.
  • Increased response to chemotherapy via induction of aberrant DNA replication during metastatic route.
  • Strategized and executed experimental procedures resulting in the novel identification of a viable biomarker in colorectal inflammation and carcinogenesis.
  • Used engineered proteins to quantitatively study biochemical pathways and control molecular interactions that govern stem cell fate.

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Top 10 Best States for Laboratory Researchers

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Minnesota
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Connecticut
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. New Jersey
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Illinois
  9. Ohio
  10. California
  • (254 jobs)
  • (155 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (55 jobs)
  • (274 jobs)
  • (171 jobs)
  • (124 jobs)
  • (172 jobs)
  • (229 jobs)
  • (652 jobs)

Top Laboratory Researcher Employers

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