The main duty of a laboratory technician is to test various types of biological samples. The tests performed by a technician usually are more basic and routine than those performed by a lab technologist or scientist.
Lab technicians analyze biological samples, such as tissue, blood and urine, and make note of any abnormalities. Some common purposes of these tests are to check blood for signs of disease and for suitability for transfusion, and checking urine for the presence of drugs. To perform these tests, lab technicians are trained in the use of laboratory equipment, such as microscopes, centrifuges and cell counters. Many tests are automated, and multiple tests can be run simultaneously. Lab technicians also may need to be familiar with how medical records are coded in order to log test results into patient records.
Technicians usually advance to the level of technologist or scientist by obtaining a bachelor's degree and several years of work experience. Technologists who work in larger labs may specialize in one particular area. Some examples are blood banks, clinical chemistry, cytotechnology, immunology, microbiology and molecular biology.
Jobs for technicians are generally in hospitals and laboratories and require full-time hours. Technicians must wear protective gear as the work sometimes exposes them to infectious agents or dangerous fumes.