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Study abroad : Career Prospects

How to become a chemical lab technician

What is a chemical lab technician? What skills and knowledge would you need to become a chemical lab technician? Find out everything you need to know here.

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If you decide to study a science-based subject at university, you could find work as a chemical lab technician. This role involves working closely with scientists and researchers to support the everyday tasks and experiments taking place in a chemical laboratory. We explore exactly what this profession involves, from the skills and qualifications you need to the responsibilities and salaries you can expect. So, if you want to contribute to the advancement of modern medicine and scientific research, you’ve come to the right place.

 

What is a chemical lab technician?

 

As a chemical lab technician, you will support scientists, chemists, or chemical engineers with a wide variety of tasks such as measuring, testing, developing, researching, and analysing results. This work is vital for the effective running of laboratories. If you are passionate about science and chemistry, you are likely to find this role quite exciting as you will have the chance to assist with scientific research that could be groundbreaking.

 

You will also be responsible for maintaining laboratory equipment to support scientists with their experiments, performing risk assessments and preparing reports and graphs for the data you collect.

 

What’s great about this profession is that you have a range of industries to choose from, such as:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Research
  • Forensics
  • Water
  • Environment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food and drink

 

For example, if you are interested in public health, you might choose to work in a laboratory that tests for contamination in food and drink. Or if you are more passionate about healthcare, you could be involved in testing blood samples and body fluids.

 

What qualifications will I need?

 

While not always necessary, having a degree in chemistry or another applied science will equip you with the right knowledge and skills that will be useful when working as a chemical lab technician. To qualify for this type of work, students are encouraged to study chemistry, physics, biology or chemical technology.

 

It is also advisable to study modules in computer science and/or statistics as chemical lab technicians regularly collect and analyse data. It is likely that you will also be given some training on the job to become accustomed with the laboratory, equipment, and ways of working.

 

Check out the following universities for chemistry degrees in the UK:

 

What skills will I need?

 

To be hired as a chemical lab technician you need to possess certain skills. These can be developed during your course and/or through work experience:

 

  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Chemistry knowledge
  • Numerical skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Attention to detail
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Ability to use and maintain technical equipment
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Time management
  • Problem solving

 

Want to study in Canada? Check out these universities in Canada offering physics degrees:

 

 

Can I become a chemical lab technician straight after university?

 

You can apply for positions once you have your degree but if you have some experience of working in a laboratory before you graduate, this will put you in an even better position when it comes to applying for jobs. This not only demonstrates your skills and experience but also your drive to work in the field.

 

If you decide to do a degree, you could consider choosing a course which incorporates a year in industry so that you gain work experience during your studies with the support and guidance from your university. The department may also have connections to laboratories that you could apply to. If your degree doesn’t include a placement year, you can always try volunteering at a laboratory or ask to shadow someone within the field.

 

Check out the following universities in the USA for biology degrees:

 

 

What do chemical lab technicians earn?

 

Your salary as a chemical lab technician will vary depending on where you work, as with any profession. So, this may be something to consider when choosing where to study your degree.

 

UK

Starting salary - GBP 15,000 – 19,000

With experience – GBP 20,000 - 25,000

Management roles – GBP 30,000 – 40,000

*Source: Graduate Prospects

 

USA

Average salary - USD 45,000

*Source: Glassdoor

 

Canada

CAD 39,187

*Source: Jobillico

 

Australia

Entry level – AUD 66,557

With experience – AUD 71,750

*Source: Talent.com

 

Now that you know what steps you need to take to become a chemical lab technician, use our course matcher tool to get the ball rolling. Or check out our other article on the top careers for STEM graduates.

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