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Biological technician salary & career outlook

If you've always seen yourself in the lab, with a white suit and goggles, then you might consider a career as a biological technician. Biological technicians "help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This entails preparing biological samples for laboratory analysis, conducting biological experiments and tests, and much more.

Aspiring biological technicians typically need a bachelor's degree in biology or a closely related field, the BLS states, as well as laboratory experience. In addition, it can also be very helpful to possess the following qualities: analytical skills, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, observational skills and technical skills.

Biological technician salary

The mean annual wage for biological technicians in America as of May 2013 was $43,710, with the lowest-paid 10 percent nationally earning an annual wage of $25,950 or below and the highest-paid 10 percent nationally earning an annual wage of $66,540 or above.

The top-paying industries nationwide for biological technicians as of May 2013, according to the BLS, were:

  • Offices of physicians ($60,590 annual mean wage)
  • Drugs and druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers ($53,120 annual mean wage)
  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing ($50,530 annual mean wage)

The top-paying states in America for biological technicians as of May 2013, according to the BLS, were:

  • New Jersey ($55,390 annual mean wage)
  • Connecticut ($53,270 annual mean wage)
  • Maryland ($50,120 annual mean wage)

And the top-paying metropolitan areas in America for biological technicians as of May 2013, according to the BLS, were:

  • San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division ($66,080 annual mean wage)
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($62,260 annual mean wage)
  • Trenton-Ewing, NJ ($60,770 annual mean wage)

Job outlook for biological technicians

The job outlook is generally strong for biological technicians in America. According to the BLS, employment of biological technicians is projected to grow 10 percent nationally between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. That comes out to a total 8,000 new jobs over the course of that decade.

The BLS gives multiple explanations for the projected growth of biological technician jobs in that 10-year span. With greater demand for biotechnology research, comes a need for biological technicians. Also, scientists will need the help of biological technicians in developing new treatments for diseases. In fact, biological technicians will be needed to help with a lot of things: developing alternative sources of energy; discovering new ways to clean and preserve the environment; and more.

And who may be landing these upcoming biological technician jobs? The BLS answers, "Applicants who have laboratory experience, either through coursework or through previous work experience, should have the best opportunities."

Individual states have their own growth potential, which can better or worse than the national average, depending on a number of factors. According to state data aggregated by Projections Central, the U.S. states with the best growth projected for biological technicians through 2020 include:

  • Utah: 31.2% expected growth
  • Georgia: 27.% expected growth
  • Kentucky: 24.2% expected growth

To get an idea of which specific metro areas might also show strong growth, it can help to look at areas where these jobs have done well in the past. The metro areas with the highest concentration of jobs and the best location quotient for biological technicians as of May 2013, according to the BLS, were:

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Corvallis, OR
  • Ames, IA

Sources:

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Biological Technicians, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes194021.htm

Biological Technicians, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biological-technicians.htm#tab-1

Long-Term Growth Projections for Biological Technicians, Projections Central,
http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm