A laboratory technician needs:
- a strong interest in science and chemistry
- to be able to accurately analyse, interpret and record data
- to be able perform basic and complex laboratory tests
- commitment to maintaining workplace safety standards
- good communication skills and able to work as part of a team
- computer and word processing skills
- good eyesight (may be corrected) and normal colour vision.
Laboratory technicians work in laboratories assisting chemists and scientists. They perform chemical testing to analyse products such as chemicals, cosmetics, plastics, pharmaceuticals and paints.
Laboratory technicians may work with potentially hazardous materials. Following proper workplace safety standards such as wearing protective clothing greatly minimises any associated risks.
On average, laboratory technicians, classified under science technicians, can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a chemistry technician develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Laboratory technicians use a wide range of general scientific equipment such as test tubes, volumetric flasks and pipettes, alongside specialised testing and measuring equipment, and computer-controlled machinery. They often need to wear special protective clothing such as safety glasses and laboratory coats.
To become a laboratory technician you usually need to complete a qualification in laboratory technology.
The Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques and Diploma of Laboratory Technology is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
You can also complete a traineeship. The technical assistant (mineral assay) or (manufacturing testing), or technical officer (food laboratory) traineeships usually take 24 to 36 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.