With nearly 12,000 biological technicians helping researchers advance the evolution of new medicines and treatments designed to prevent, treat or cure diseases, California remains the nation’s leading state for employment opportunities. In addition to working in the scientific research and development services industry, many of these laboratory assistants perform environmental testing to support wildlife and resource management initiatives.

In greater Los Angeles, technicians earn an average annual salary of about $50,000. Those holding down jobs in life, physical and social science occupations rake in yearly wages in excess of $60,000. By the time they are ready to compete for available positions, they have already earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and studied such specific subfields as ecology, physiology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Most of them gain their know-how while still in school.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Howard Xu)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Howard Xu)

“Employers expect that our biological students to not only grasp theoretical concepts, but to also gain experience and possess hands-on laboratory skills in a variety of experiments,” said Dr. Howard Xu, an associate professor of biological sciences at California State University, Los Angeles.

How valid is school-monitored laboratory experience?

“Without solid experience in basic techniques and laboratory skills, newly hired biological technicians would have a difficult time learning more specialized and sophisticated techniques and methods required at the workplace.”

How is the biosciences field progressing?

“Commissioned by Los Angeles County, the Battelle Report indicates that the biosciences industry in the L.A. region has been, and continues to be, a key economic driver for the region and that there is potential to expand the industry.”

What should aspiring biological technicians anticipate in the coming years?

“With support and commitments from area governments and private partners, the L.A. region is expected to see significant growth in the bioscience industry, and thus there will be an increased need for well-trained, innovative biological technicians.”

What must biological technicians do to fortify employment?

“With advances in technologies and ever-increasing integration of diverse disciplines, we anticipate an effective biological technician must be well-versed in the languages of a variety of fields, adaptive to changing needs of an organization and comfortable working in a team environment.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.

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