Chemistry lab technicians work in conjunction with chemists and chemical engineers in a variety of fields, such as health care, pharmaceutical research, law enforcement, and manufacturing. A two year associate’s degree typically is required for entry-level positions. Practical experience in the field may be obtained from an internship program, post-degree training, or on-the-job training. Some states in the United States require lab technicians to be certified.
An individual can become a chemistry lab technician with an associate’s degree in Applied Science. This degree can be obtained at many vocational schools, community colleges, or universities. Due to the need for extensive hands-on training, this degree generally is not available as an online option.
The education required to become a chemistry lab technician may vary from program to program, but all usually include an emphasis on biological and chemical coursework. Other areas of study may include pharmaceutical analysis, microbiology, and physics. If a specialization is desired, coursework may include additional studies in forensics or environmental sciences.
Lab work also requires the use of specialized equipment. An individual desiring to become a chemistry lab technician typically should look for a program that will provide plenty of hands-on experience. Some schools work with employers in the community to provide internships. Companies may offer apprenticeships or a training program to a student, providing the opportunity to become a chemical lab technician at the facility once the training has ended.
A chemistry lab is particularly affected by advancements in technology. As more automation and keener measurements are introduced into the lab, the processes of lab work usually must adapt. One way to advance in the field is to make a commitment to become a chemistry lab technician who can readily adapt to the changes in the industry. A thorough knowledge of current industry software and instrumentation can be a key to marketability in the field.
As with many other jobs involved in the sciences, ongoing education may be necessary to keep up with scientific advances. Professional organizations and area schools will often host workshops or seminars on specialized or new topics. Additionally, online courses may be available for professionals looking to refresh past knowledge or to obtain further knowledge in a particular area.
Ultimately, a bachelor’s degree or further certification may be helpful in obtaining a higher salary or position. Most chemistry lab technologist positions, for instance, require either a four-year degree or equivalent experience. In general, lab technologists work with more complex processes and may be responsible for a greater amount of analytical and decision-making work.