Employment of biological technicians is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Greater demand for biological and medical research is expected to increase the need for these workers.
Biotechnology research plays a key role in scientific advancements that improve people’s quality of life. One new area of biotechnology, synthetic biology, will employ biological technicians in attempts to redesign biological systems or living organisms to produce useful things, such as chemicals, in more efficient ways than are currently used. New applications of biotechnology may be the subject of research topics ranging from new ways to produce biofuels to providing new treatments for diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Applicants who have laboratory experience, either through coursework or through previous work experience, should have the best opportunities.
The median annual wage for biological technicians was $43,800 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,560.
Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. Most colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in the biological sciences. Some positions may be available to associate’s degree holders or those without a degree but who have biological laboratory experience.
Biological science programs usually include courses in general biology, as well as in specific subfields such as ecology, microbiology, and physiology. In addition to taking courses in biology, students must study chemistry, math, and physics. Computer science courses are helpful for learning how to model and simulate biological processes and for learning how to operate some laboratory equipment.
Laboratory experience is important for prospective biological technicians, so students should take biology courses that emphasize laboratory work.