technicians need an associate degree in applied science
or science-related technology. Many employers prefer
applicants who have at least 2 years of specialized training or an
associate degree in applied science or science-related technology.
Many technical and
community colleges offer associate degrees in a specific technology or
more general education in science and mathematics. A number of associate
degree programs are designed to provide easy transfer to bachelor's
degree programs at colleges or universities.
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in science
who have considerable experience in laboratory-based courses, have
completed internships, or have held summer jobs in laboratories also are
well qualified for science technician positions and are preferred by
Some schools offer
cooperative-education or internship programs, allowing students the
opportunity to work at a local company or some other workplace while
attending classes during alternate terms. Participation in such programs
can significantly enhance a student's employment prospects.
People interested in
careers as science technicians should take as many high school science
and math courses as possible. Science courses taken beyond high school,
in an associate or bachelor's degree program, should be laboratory
oriented, with an emphasis on bench skills. A solid background in
applied chemistry, physics, and math is vital.
are important because technicians are often required to report their
findings both orally and in writing. In addition, technicians should be
able to work well with others. Because computers often are used in
research and development laboratories, technicians should also have
strong computer skills, especially in computer modeling. Organizational
ability, an eye for detail, and skill in interpreting scientific results
are important as well, as are a high mechanical aptitude, attention to
detail, and analytical thinking.
begin work as trainees in routine positions under the direct supervision
of a scientist or a more experienced technician. As they gain
experience, technicians take on more responsibility and carry out
assignments under only general supervision, and some eventually become
supervisors. However, technicians employed at universities often have
job prospects tied to those of particular professors; when those
professors retire or leave, these technicians face uncertain employment
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.