Summary Guide for Biological Technicians in California
May also be called: Biological Science Laboratory Technicians; Environmental Technicians; Resource Biologists; Wildlife Biology Technicians
What Would I Do?
Biological Technicians* work with biologists studying living organisms. They set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments; monitor experiments; make observations; calculate and record results; and often develop conclusions. Those who work for pharmaceutical companies help develop and manufacture medicines, while those working in the field of microbiology generally work as laboratory assistants, studying living organisms and infectious agents. They also analyze organic substances, such as blood, food, and drugs. Biological Technicians working in biotechnology apply knowledge and techniques gained from basic research, including gene splicing and recombinant DNA, and apply them to product development.
Green Economy: Within the green economy, Biological Technicians often work as part of a natural resource management team. They can make field observations of natural resource conditions, assist in preparation of draft reports, plans, and guidelines, and provide logistical support and area orientation for scientists. With additional short-term training in plant propagation and tissue culture, Biological Technicians also aid in the production of biofuels.
Biological Technicians work under a wide variety of conditions. Most work indoors, usually in laboratories, and have regular hours. Some occasionally work irregular hours to monitor experiments that cannot be completed during regular working hours. Production Biological Technicians often work in eight-hour shifts around the clock. Other Biological Technicians, such as those who work in State or national parks, fisheries, and other natural resource conservation areas, may perform much of their work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations.
Biological Technicians sometimes work with disease-causing organisms or radioactive agents. However, these working conditions pose little risk if proper safety procedures are followed. Biological Technicians are generally not unionized, except when employed by federal, State, or local government.
*This product was partially funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.
Will This Job Fit Me?
People interested in becoming Biological Technicians tend to enjoy work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They may also like to work with ideas, search for facts, and figure out problems mentally.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Biological Technicians in California was $50,288 annually, or $24.18 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Biological Technicians may expect to receive benefit packages including medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and a 401(k). Some employers of Biological Technicians also offer various bonus and incentive packages.
What is the Job Outlook?
Most job openings will be created by the need to replace Biological Technicians who retire or leave the field for other reasons. Green economy activities and technologies may increase the demand for Biological Technicians; however, like many occupations, employment may be sensitive to fluctuations in the economy.
How Do I Qualify?
Prospective Biological Technicians should have at least an associate degree and two years of experience in the field or in a laboratory setting. However, some employers of Biological Technicians prefer applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in one of the biological sciences. Many technical and community colleges offer programs in a specific technology or more general education in science and mathematics.
Biological Technicians usually are not required to hold licenses or certifications, but some employers may prefer applicants with specialized certificates, depending on the type of work being done. Once on the job, they are also expected to keep updated on new scientific innovations and to adapt this knowledge to their field or laboratory setting.
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads, Internet job listings, job fairs, professional associations, social networking sites, or college career centers may also provide job leads. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
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