Research technicians, also known as science technicians, help senior scientists perform various laboratory or field tests by setting up the necessary equipment and recording observations during the experiments. Research technicians might work for colleges and universities, hospitals and independent research centers.
Doing the Job
The specific duties of research technicians vary by specialty. Agricultural technicians, for instance, work with agricultural and food scientists. They prepare field sites for testing, set up and operate equipment such as cultivators and sprayers, and record research data. Environmental technicians help environmental scientists gather environmental data by collecting weather information or testing air quality and interpreting results. When physicists and engineers engage in nuclear research, nuclear technicians are on standby to set up and operate nuclear instruments such as accelerators and spectrometers, and monitor the production of radiation. In a biology laboratory, biological technicians might help medical scientists and other professionals conduct DNA research. In addition, they might gather biological samples and operate electron microscopes and other laboratory equipment.
Although research technicians can be hired with a high school diploma and at least two years of laboratory research experience, those with an associate’s degree in applied science have stronger employment prospects. To thrive on the job, research technicians must have good eye-hand coordination as well as attention to detail and strong organizational and problem-solving skills. Ambitious research technicians can pursue advanced degrees in various scientific fields, such as bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in biology or chemistry, to become senior scientists or researchers.