Schools and Education
- A bachelor’s degree in a biological sciences major is generally required for entry-level biotechnology laboratory technician positions. Some positions may be available via an associate’s degree in a biology major.
- Students should consider taking on an internship or other hands-on working opportunity while completing their studies. This added experience can provide a valuable competitive edge in the employment marketplace and greater degrees of familiarity with the laboratory environment.
What you study:
Coursework for a specialized biology degree program will typically include the following subjects:
- A wide range of biological sciences
- Chemistry and biochemistry
- Basic computer science courses
- Physics and the physical sciences
- Laboratory coursework to develop skills in the lab setting
Depending on the desired career path students may wish to add elective coursework in business medicine pharmacy studies or other specialty fields.
What courses you’ll take
Below are examples of courses that you might take as part of a of a biology or biotechnology degree.
|Biology||Usually spanning several semesters these courses cover major concepts and topics in biology including: origins of life; energy within organisms; chemical basis of life; plant and animal diversity; human and animal physiology; cells; organs; genetics; evolution; and ecology.||Give students the core knowledge of the biological sciences that they need to take on advanced and specialized studies.|
|Chemistry||Properties of elements and compounds as related to atomic structures; chemical solutions; stoichiometry organic chemistry and biochemistry. Presents theories about reactivity equilibriums thermodynamics electrochemistry bonding and behavior of materials.||Teach chemistry basics as related to biological systems.|
|Chemistry Laboratory||Gives laboratory work that demonstrate and illustrate concepts taught in chemistry classroom.||Reinforce chemistry basics through hands-on experiments and introduce laboratory practices that students will use in their field.|
|Organic Chemistry||Applies scientific problem solving to organic or carbon-based compounds. Teaches the terminology concepts related to molecular electronics organic reactions stereochemistry and organic compound structure.||Teach basics of organic chemistry which is a part of the foundation knowledge of biology and biological lab work.|
|Organisms||Explores the life sustaining processes of different types of life forms. Looks at use of life-essential molecules growth reproduction and responses to the organism’s environment. Usually includes labs to reinforce concepts and teach scientific methods used in research.||Prepare students to work with a variety of life forms within lab and research settings|
|Electives||Students in many biology programs can select from a spectrum of specialized studies such as: botany; entomology; plant biology; neurobiology; advanced molecular biology; environmental toxicology; parasitology and human histology.||Enable students to focus on an interest related to the type of lab work they would like to do.|
A short overview showing what is involved in being a biotech lab tech. Created for the US Department of Labor.
Certifications and Licensing
No national biotechnology laboratory technician certification program has been established. However some states may offer voluntary certifications for individuals. For example the American Society for Microbiology provides accredited support for voluntary certification programs in the states of California and Florida.
Full-time versus part-time:
Biotechnology laboratory technicians work in the laboratory setting on a full-time basis. Some technicians may work in shifts especially in laboratories that perform testing for health care facilities. Due to the nature of the work performed biotechnology technicians typically must adhere to the set working hours and may be required to perform overtime on critical projects.
These useful resources can provide valuable information on educational opportunities job prospects and other news in the field of biotechnology research and development. Additionally biotechnology member organizations offer additional avenues for networking and connecting with others in this important scientific field.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook — This government website offers a comprehensive range of information on earnings potential job responsibilities and employment prospects for those considering a career as a biotechnology laboratory technician. The site provides an in-depth look at the educational requirements and certifications necessary to achieve success in this growing industry.
- Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology — Since 1912 FASEB has served as the voice of the science and biotechnology community in the larger community of society and government. Today FASEB sponsors conferences and seminars in the biotechnology field offers job search assistance and publishes a scholarly journal dedicated to experimental biology research results.
- American Institute of Biological Sciences — One of the most prestigious member organizations for biology and biotechnology professionals AIBS provides educational opportunities for students and scientists and works to represent the views and opinions of its members through the activities of the AIBS Public Policy Office. The organization also offers exclusive scientific peer review services for technicians interested in publishing their findings in the academic environment.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — The NCBI operates under the auspices of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and provides in-depth information on current developments and research results in the biotechnology field. The databases tutorials and training materials available on this website will be of particular interest to biotechnology students and newcomers to this exciting career field.
- USDA National Agricultural Library — Focusing primarily on the agricultural applications and implications of biotechnology research the National Agricultural Library website offers information on cutting-edge research in the field of transgenic livestock bioengineered plants for food and energy production and many other areas of investigation within the biotechnology community.
- American Society for Microbiology — The oldest professional organization for microbiologists and biotechnology laboratory technicians the American Society for Microbiology publishes numerous scholarly journals and monographs and provides professional development and continuing education opportunities for members on an ongoing basis.
Salaries by City
See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.
|State||City / Region||Typical Salary||Salary Range||Job Count||% of All Jobs|
|AL||Auburn – Opelika||$42460||130||0.28%|
|AR||Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway||$35280||60||0.02%|
|AZ||Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale||$33680||480||0.03%|
|CA||Bakersfield – Delano||$38820||30||0.01%|
|CA||Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)||$46080||1420||0.04%|
|CA||Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)||$49660||1360||0.14%|
|CA||Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura||$43430||N/A||N/A|
|CA||Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario||$38960||410||0.04%|
|CA||Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville||$33640||540||0.07%|
|CA||San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos||$42690||2210||0.18%|
|CA||San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)||$69940||1260||0.13%|
|CA||San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara||$43120||890||0.10%|
|CA||San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles||$44200||N/A||N/A|
|CA||Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)||$37280||810||0.06%|
|CA||Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta||$48960||50||0.03%|
|CA||Santa Cruz – Watsonville||$31440||N/A||N/A|
|CA||Santa Rosa – Petaluma||$39610||40||0.03%|
|CA||Vallejo – Fairfield||$38990||70||0.06%|
|CA||Visalia – Porterville||$31320||90||0.07%|
|CO||Denver – Aurora – Broomfield||$43200||1860||0.15%|
|CO||Fort Collins – Loveland||$33770||200||0.15%|
|CT||Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk||$67980||30||0.01%|
|CT||Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford||$56790||140||0.03%|
|CT||Norwich – New London||$43490||N/A||N/A|
|DC||Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)||$45020||950||0.04%|
|DE||Wilmington (Metro Area)||$40620||240||0.07%|
|FL||Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)||$37070||70||0.01%|
|FL||Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)||$41040||120||0.01%|
|FL||North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota||$42680||60||0.02%|
|FL||Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford||$34320||210||0.02%|
|FL||Panama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach||$36020||N/A||N/A|
|FL||Port St. Lucie||$37250||140||0.11%|
|FL||Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater||$31920||150||0.01%|
|FL||West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)||$36680||120||0.02%|
|GA||Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta||$42690||260||0.01%|
|IA||Des Moines – West Des Moines||$41930||N/A||N/A|
|ID||Coeur d’Alene ID||$31310||40||0.07%|
|IL||Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)||$43620||N/A||N/A|
|IL||Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area)||$39720||50||0.01%|
|IN||Gary (Metro Area)||$34310||50||0.02%|
|IN||Indianapolis – Carmel||$40040||N/A||N/A|
|KY||Lexington – Fayette||$28480||200||0.08%|
|KY||Louisville – Jefferson County||$33680||40||0.01%|
|LA||New Orleans – Metairie – Kenner||$29430||140||0.03%|
|LA||Shreveport – Bossier City||$34750||N/A||N/A|
|MA||Boston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)||$43810||4390||0.26%|
|MA||Framingham (Metro Area)||$52060||230||0.14%|
|MA||Lowell – Billerica – Chelmsford (Metro Area)||$37810||N/A||N/A|
|MD||Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area)||$50470||1520||0.27%|
|ME||Portland – South Portland – Biddeford||$45130||190||0.10%|
|MI||Kalamazoo – Portage||$19240||120||0.09%|
|MI||Lansing – East Lansing||$34420||50||0.02%|
|MI||Warren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area)||$35460||100||0.01%|
|MN||Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington||$37680||490||0.03%|
|NC||Charlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill||$33420||40||0.01%|
|NC||Durham – Chapel Hill||$39740||570||0.21%|
|NC||Raleigh – Cary||N/A||240||0.05%|
|NE||Omaha – Council Bluffs||$36620||150||0.03%|
|NH||Rochester – Dover||$42400||40||0.07%|
|NJ||Camden (Metro Area)||$38780||90||0.02%|
|NJ||Edison – New Brunswick (Metro Area)||$48260||1280||0.13%|
|NJ||Newark – Union (Metro Area)||$44,450||460||0.05%|
|NJ||Trenton – Ewing||$57,000||N/A||N/A|
|NV||Las Vegas – Paradise||$38,790||80||0.01%|
|NV||Reno – Sparks||$34,540||N/A||N/A|
|NY||Albany – Schenectady – Troy||$43,200||860||0.20%|
|NY||Nassau – Suffolk (Metro Area)||$36,550||260||0.02%|
|NY||New York – White Plains – Wayne (Metro Area)||$44,510||1,220||0.02%|
|NY||Poughkeepsie – Newburgh – Middletown||$41,730||70||0.03%|
|OH||Cincinnati – Middletown||$40,470||1,130||0.12%|
|OH||Cleveland – Elyria – Mentor||$34,180||410||0.04%|