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How to work as a laboratory assistant in schools

Lab technicians in schools support the work of science teachers and science students. They set up the equipment needed to conduct school science lessons, and ensure that students are able to safely use the equipment provided. Find out more about the essential role of the laboratory assistant in schools, and discover how to work as laboratory assistants.

Work activities

Lab technicians aid staff and students to make the most of laboratory facilities in schools, colleges and universities. Lab technicians set up, test and make use of scientific equipment which range from basic microscopes to complex research equipment.

Skills

To work as lab assistants in schools, it is essential to have a keen interest in science, a methodical mind, and an ability to pay attention to fine detail. Lab technicians in schools require an interest in education and excellent communication skills. Lab technicians may be required to demonstrate the use of scientific equipment, so good presentation skills and self-confidence are a must.

Qualifications

The majority of employers of lab technicians require at least five GCSE passes, including English, maths and science. Approximately 40 percent of school lab technicians possess a HNC/HND, or a degree in a scientific subject. Laboratory assistant training is typically provided on the job. Health and safety training is essential for all lab technicians. NVQ study is available to lab technicians who wish to train on the job.

Work conditions and salary range

Working hours Lab technicians in schools typically work a 37-hour week, Monday to Friday. The majority of lab technicians work part-time and term-time only. Work setting Lab technicians spend the majority of their day in laboratories and in preparation rooms. Since lab technicians are required to work with chemicals, the use of protective clothing is a must. Salary Individuals in laboratory in schools can earn a starting salary of around £11,000 per year. Experienced lab technicians may earn around £30,000 per year. Lab technicians in universities tend to earn more than lab technicians in high schools.

Career prospects

School lab assistants Prospective lab technicians may start their career as an assistant technician. They may then progress into a technician’s role. From here, it is possible to work towards a senior, or lead technician role. With experience and further qualifications, a senior technician can become a laboratory manager. University lab assistants Lab technicians who work in university research departments may go on to become research assistants or administrators. It is possible for a university lab technician to train to become a teacher, lecturer or research scientist, should they wish to embark on the qualifications needed to take on such roles.

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