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Laboratory and Science Technician (Laboratory Workers)

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 10,001 to 25,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1301 to $1700 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief The skills of laboratory and science technicians are utilised in a wide range of industries, from food processing and mining, to health and agriculture.

There are currently around 1,200 science technical officers employed in South Australia. Employment is largely part-time and most work in the manufacturing, property and business services and education industries. Over half of persons in this occupation are male and over half are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Laboratory and Science Technician (Laboratory Workers)

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Introduction

The work of laboratory technicians involves the collection, preparation and analysis of a wide range of samples. Usually working as part of a research team, their results are used to check the quality of foodstuffs and manufactured products, to detect pollution in air, water and soil and to help with diagnosing diseases. While the technician's job usually requires greater knowledge and less supervision than that of a laboratory assistant, the titles are sometimes used interchangeably. Generally speaking, laboratory assistants tend to perform routine, repetitive tests. In addition, they clean glassware and equipment, maintain inventories of samples, and deliver work reports to supervisors. Laboratory technicians participate more fully in research, design, development and the manufacture of scientific products and equipment, as well as the testing of raw materials, processes and finished products.

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Education Requirements

Entry into this occupation usually requires completion of a certificate course in laboratory techniques or skills. For further information, please check out the TAFE website listed below. The prerequisite subjects for these courses is generally applicable maths, chemistry, biology or human biology. There are 23% of laboratory and science technicians who have Bachelor Degrees, 15% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas, 22% have Certificate III or Certificate IV. While there are 33% who have no post-school qualifications it is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to gain the best possible chance of employment.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Laboratory Technology, Diploma of Laboratory Technology (Specialsing in Pathology Testing) and the Diploma of Laboratory Technology (Specialising in Wine Testing). Pathways include the Certificate II in Sampling and Measurement, Certificate III in Laboratory Skills, Certificate III in Laboratory Skills (Specialising in Wine Testing)and Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques.

Studying at TAFE SA is one of the easiest and most successful pathways towards a University Degree. Dual offer courses are available to TAFE SA and Flinders University in the Diploma of Laboratory Technology/Bachelor of Science.

SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at http://www.skills.sa.gov.au/apprenticeships-traineeships or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Career Path

Job opportunities for lab technicians are dependent on factors such as the introduction of new technology, funding for research institutions, the importance placed on research and development by business, the volume of imported and exported products that require testing, and the level of research undertaken to improve the quality of products. A Process Manufacturing Industry Training Council spokesman says that the future employment outlook varies according to which industry they are engaged in, but that overall employment prospects are sound. Their role in testing products and manufacturing processes are becoming more sophisticated and will remain in demand.

Industries

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing,  Manufacturing,  Mining

Nature of the Job

''The three main areas that lab and science technicians work in are process manufacturing and construction materials, biomedical and environmental services and food and beverage processing,'' says a Manufacturing Learning Australia spokesperson. Laboratories are found in hospitals, mining companies, companies that manufacture food, universities and organisations such as the Institute of Sport, police forensic services, museums and art galleries. As a laboratory/science technician, therefore, you will work with a variety of professionals, including scientists, medical staff and engineers. A variety of industrial sectors employ laboratory and science technicians:

Laboratory technicians in the health industry, largely work in the area of pathology.

Process manufacturing lab technicians work with chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, household products and the like. They come into contact with dangerous or hazardous chemicals, which means the technicians need to wear protective work gear.

The lab technicians employed in the construction and mining industries are required to carry out tests on raw construction and mining materials and to test out end products. The food processing sector is another significant employer of lab technicians. According to an industry representative, there is currently a strong focus on microanalysis, with assessments being carried out on the microbiological components of food and the testing of genetically modified food.

Typical Physical Working Environment

An interest in secondary school subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology and life sciences, a natural curiosity, an investigative mind an interest in scientific enquiry combined with patience and the capacity to concentrate and to pay attention to detail are prerequisites to succeed in this occupation.

Science technical officers must be able to work independently and as part of a team. They must also be prepare to work in different environments and possible travel to remote areas.

Typical Occupational Example

As a laboratory/science technician you will work with scientists, chemists, medical staff and engineers. You may care for laboratory animals and plants and help to maintain expensive equipment in good working order. Your work will involve using high tech instruments and computers in laboratories that are very clean and well lit. Standard 9-5, Monday to Friday working hours apply in most laboratory roles, with some opportunities for overtime. However, work priorities govern hours, and if, say, a process emergency arises on the weekend, or if a particular field sample can only be collected late at night, then laboratory staff must fit in. The work tends to be offered on a full time basis. Sometimes your work may involve collecting samples and obtaining measurements outside the laboratory, sometimes in remote areas of Australia.

For further information, contact:

The Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Inc (National Office)
Phone: 1800 816 148
Email: aifst@aifst.asn.au
Website: www.aifst.asn.au

Earning Potential

Starting salaries begin around $38,000 and range as high as $45,000 per year for senior technicians. Positions in remote locations or the mining industry may attract higher salaries.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online