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Medical laboratory scientist

A lab technician works in a laboratory assisting scientific and technical staff in day-to-day duties. The work is varied and rewarding with plenty of scope for career progression.

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Quality assurance technician
  • Lab technologisttechnician
  • Clinical/medical technologist

Introduction

Lab technicians are the mainstay of the scientific research lab. They perform tests to produce reliable and precise data to support scientific investigations. They often work in research and development facilities in areas as diverse as hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, food manufacturers, diagnostic labs and chemical companies where they help to create or improve processes, techniques, equipment, products or materials. Quality assurance technicians work with food and drink, pharmaceutical, colour technology and agrochemical companies to ensure every stage of the manufacture process meets rigorous standards.

What the job involves

  • Analyse body fluids or tissues using microscope or automatic analyser to detect abnormalities or diseases
  • Conduct blood tests and perform blood counts
  • Examine cells and cultures to find abnormalities.
  • Set up, maintain, calibrate, clean, and test sterility of medical laboratory equipment
  • Analyse results of tests
  • Record test data
  • Work with a pathologist when abnormal cells are found
  • Prepare standard solutions or reagents to be combined with samples
  • Analyse food or drink samples to detect contamination or to ensure quality
  • Environmental sample analysis to detect pollutants

How your career can develop

Lab technicians are employed in most if not all areas of science and there is much scope to vary your career and to travel. For instance, lab technicians can move between careers in medical research and diagnostics to manufacturing to drug trials to education. Within the lab, the technician can progress from assistant technician to technician to senior/lead technician to team leader technician and finally to laboratory manager.

Why it matters

Lab technicians are a vital cog of medical healthcare apparatus, conducting screenings on everything from throat swabs to cancer test results.

Skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Investigative skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • The ability to maintain and calibrate technical equipment
  • Time management skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Patience
  • Attention to detail

Typical employers

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Research institutes
  • Food and drink companies
  • Pharmaceutical firms
  • Medical devices manufacturers
  • Agricultural and agrochemical sectors
  • Environmental protection bodies

Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting €22,000 to €32,000
  • Senior/Potential €40,000+

Typical qualifications

Lab technicians usually start with a science degree, depending on the industry they wish to pursue. Also general science PLCs and diplomas exist which will allow entry into a degree level science course.