technicians use the principles and theories of science and mathematics
to solve problems in research and development and to help invent and
improve products and processes. However, their jobs are more practically
oriented than those of scientists. Technicians set up, operate, and
maintain laboratory instruments, monitor experiments, make observations,
calculate and record results, and often develop conclusions. They must
keep detailed logs of all of their work. Those who perform production
work monitor manufacturing processes and may ensure quality by testing
products for proper proportions of ingredients, for purity, or for
strength and durability.
As laboratory instrumentation and procedures have become more
complex, the role of science technicians in research and development has
expanded. In addition to performing routine tasks, many technicians,
under the direction of scientists, now develop and adapt laboratory
procedures to achieve the best results, interpret data, and devise
solutions to problems. Technicians must develop expert knowledge of
laboratory equipment so that they can adjust settings when necessary and
recognize when equipment is malfunctioning.
Most science technicians specialize, learning their skills and
working in the same disciplines in which scientists work. Occupational
titles, therefore, tend to follow the same structure as those for
scientists. Other science technicians perform a wide range of
activities. Some collect weather information or assist oceanographers;
others work as laser technicians or radiographers.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by
the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.