Lab Assistant: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Requirements
Depending on the type of facility in which they work, lab assistants collect and process samples from various sources and use lab equipment to analyze them. Lab assistants must have at least a high school diploma and many have earned an Associate's Degree in Applied Science. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Lab Assistant Job Duties
The main duty of a lab assistant is to support the professional lab technologist in collecting specimens from various sources and preparing them for analysis. In order to fulfill this task, an assistant will ensure that all necessary materials are at hand when needed. Thus, restocking materials and reagents and cleaning equipment and laboratory instruments is also part of the typical daily routine. Keeping track of the data obtained and accurately recording the various analyses performed are important roles for the lab assistant.
Career Outlook for Lab Assistants
The job outlook for clinical lab workers is generally excellent for the period of 2008-2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov. The growth is forecast to be over 15% for laboratory workers during this period.
Opportunities in this field should be abundant, especially for employees with further training and experience in a laboratory setting, including certification or an advanced degree. The median salary expectation for clinical and medical laboratory technicians was about $33,000 in May 2008.
Lab assistants often work in hospitals, university laboratories, private research companies and with other organizations that operate labs and perform scientific research.
Educational Requirements to Become a Lab Assistant
Lab assistants may be trained on the job and must hold at least a high school diploma. Further training is available from community colleges and vocational schools in the form of certificate programs and Associate's Degrees in Applied Science. The program is generally made up of courses that include basic sciences and mathematics. Additional hands-on training with basic laboratory techniques and equipment is generally provided at the college level.
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