Lab technicians work in medical facilities, research institutes, and crime labs to analyze material samples and record data. They frequently work alongside scientists and lab technologists to conduct experiments and interpret results. Those who work in clinical laboratories collect and study blood and tissue samples from patients, while technicians in scientific research laboratories perform tests on various chemical and biological substances. Lab techs who work in forensic labs analyze evidence from crime scenes to help solve cases. Since most professionals specialize, there are several different lab technician jobs available.
Clinical or medical lab technicians are responsible for detecting the presence of abnormalities in samples of human tissue, blood, and bodily fluids. They pass their findings on to physicians, who can then prescribe appropriate treatments. Lab techs frequently operate specialized instruments such as cell counters and electron microscopes. In addition, lab techs usually spend significant amounts of time working with computers, entering data and analyzing statistical results from experiments.
There are numerous different clinical lab technician jobs which require specialized knowledge. Phlebotomists, for example, collect and analyze the components of blood. Histotechnicians inspect samples of body tissue for bacteria and other abnormalities, and cytotechnology technicians detect cancerous and diseased cells.
Budding scientists often obtain lab technician jobs in scientific research institutions. Science lab technicians often work with experienced scientists to design research projects, collect field samples, conduct experiments, analyze results, and write scientific papers. There are nearly as many different scientific lab technician jobs as there are scientific disciplines. Technicians may specialize in chemistry, biology, environmental science, geology, and nuclear research, among many other fields.
Forensic lab technicians gather physical evidence from crime scenes, such as weapons, clothing, and blood samples. They analyze evidence in a lab using various techniques to uncover facts about a crime scene. Forensic lab techs might test firearms to gather ballistic information or extract DNA from hair or tissue samples. Often, the work performed by skilled forensic specialists leads to the identification of perpetrators. When a criminal case goes to trial, a forensic lab tech may be required to give an expert testimony based on his or her findings.
Other lab technician jobs can be found in veterinary, dental, and ophthalmic clinics. Veterinary technicians analyze tissue and blood samples from pets and domesticated farm animals, typically performing the same duties as clinical lab technicians. Dental lab techs create prosthetic teeth, crowns, and bridges for individual patients based on dentists' specifications. Ophthalmic lab techs cut and shape prescription eyeglass and contact lenses.