In research and development, a science technician uses principles and theories of mathematics and science. He or she helps in the invention and improvement of products and processes. The job of a science technician is more practical than scientists. His nature of the job involves setting up, operation and maintenance of laboratory instruments, monitoring experiments, making observations, calculating, and recording results and quite frequently drawing conclusions.
A science technician is involved in production work, monitors manufacturing processes, and ensures quality by way of testing products to ascertain proper proportions of ingredients, durability, strength, and purity. With the enhanced complexities of laboratory instrumentation and procedures, the role of a science technician has also broadened in research and development. Depending upon one's specialty, there are various job titles of a science technician, like agricultural and food science technician, biological technician, chemical technician, environmental science, protection technician, forensic science technician, forest and conservation technician, geological and petroleum technician, nuclear technician, and other science technicians who perform a wide range of activities in their respective fields.
A science technician should possess an associate degree or a certificate in applied science or science related technology. A bachelor's degree is generally a necessity for a biological and forensic science technician. A person with a high school diploma and no college degree can begin to work as trainee science technician under the direct supervision of an experienced technician and eventually earns a 2 year degree in science technology. Depending upon the varying preferences of employers, some science technicians possess a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, or forensic science, or have completed science and math courses at a 4 year college.
Regardless of its degree, a science technician usually needs hands-on training in school or on the job. Other skills that a science technician should possess include communication skills both orally and in writing, the ability to work well in a team and other others. He should also have strong computer skills particularly in computer modeling. Besides this, he should have the ability to organize, an eye for detail, and skills to interpret scientific results and think analytically.
Usually a technician begins work as trainee under direct supervision of a scientist or experienced technician. After gaining experience he takes more responsibility and eventually becomes supervisor. Typically the job prospects of technicians employed in universities is tied to those of particular professors as a result on retirement or leaving of those professors, such technicians face uncertainty of their employment prospects.
As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of a biological science technician in the year 2007 was $40,629, for physical science technicians it was $53,026, and for a forestry technician it was $40,534. The average annual salary for a geodetic technician was $54,081, for a hydrologic technician it was $50,337, while meteorological technicians received an average annual salary of $63,396.
In the year 2006, science technicians held about 267,000 jobs in US, 52 percent of them were chemical and biological technicians. Approximately 30 percent of biological technicians were working in scientific, technical, or professional services firms. The other biological technicians were mostly employed in educational services, local, state, or federal governments or pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industries.
As per projections of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment science technicians will grow about as fast as the average for all other occupations. There will be variation in employment change by specialty. There will be the best job potential to a graduate of applied science technology program who is well trained on the use of laboratory and/or production facilities equipments. It is expected that the overall employment of a science technician will grow at a pace of 12 percent during the decade from 2006 to 2016. This growth will be driven by the growth of employment in scientific and medical research, particularly in biotechnology.
There are overall good job prospects in the occupation of a science technician. There will be the best job potential due to growth in the field of pharmaceutical and medicines. Besides this many openings are expected to arise due to replacement needs of science technicians on account of their retirement or leaving the labor force for any other reason. A graduate of applied science technology programs well trained in equipments used in laboratories or production facilities is expected to have the best job potential