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What Does a Technical Assistant Do?

By D. Nelson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Individuals who work as technical assistants are located in a number of different industries. It is common to find these professionals in fields such as engineering, media, and research science. In general, technical assistants are trained professionals who assist lead researchers, engineers, and developers in designing solutions and optimizing operations. An individual who works as a technical assistant for a civil engineer, for example, might be responsible for gathering data regarding congestion on certain roadways. This kind of assistant might enter data into a program and generate graphs or spreadsheets that lead engineers can use while they are designing transportation solutions, such as bridges.

The qualifications required to become a technical assistant greatly vary and depend on industries where they are employed, as well as individual employers. An assistant for a media specialist, for example, might need only some basic training in operating media technology, such as video recorders and players. These assistants in laboratory research, on other hand, are commonly graduate students who are highly trained in specific disciplines. Individuals who become technical assistants are often interested in receiving training for more established positions and may sometimes earn academic credit.

In most cases, a technical assistant is not responsible for making decisions. Instead, he or she receives instruction from a supervisor. It is common for an assistant to start his or her shift by meeting with a supervisor to learn which tasks he or she is to complete.

Many individuals in these roles are expected to have some technical expertise. A library assistant, for example, should be able to operate digital library catalogs, enter data regarding checked in and checked out items, and make necessary adjustments to inventory. Much of the assistant's duties involve performing computer functions that help higher level professionals to perform their duties, such as collecting data and generating reports.

When assistants work in media contexts, their jobs are often to set up VHS and DVD players. They also might deliver equipment to individual offices or rooms. It is common to find these kinds of assistants in colleges and high schools. These positions are often occupied by students who receive either academic credit or pay that can be applied to tuition or living expenses.

An assistant who works with science researchers performs duties such as gathering data based on laboratory investigations. He or she might prepare reports so that researchers can analyze data they already have collected. Individuals with these kinds of roles may also be responsible for conducting actual studies based on instruction provided by lead researchers.

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Discussion Comments

By TurtleeyMC — On Mar 24, 2014

@Telesyst - You are absolutely right, assistant and intern positions can be worth their weight in gold in a job search.

Not only does it give you a chance to work in the industry and learn more than you could in any classroom, it also gives you a great idea of what it's like to work 9 to 5, five days a week in a lot of cases.

A lot of kids just coming out of college have all of the book smarts in the world, but have no idea how to dress, speak or act in a regular, real world working environment.

By Telsyst — On Mar 23, 2014

It sounds like a technical assistant is the one forced to do the grunt work, much like an intern.

However, most employers will tell you that any on-the-job experience a potential hire has weighs much more heavily in his favor than education, collegiate awards or honors or other factors.

So, especially for college students, the more assistant and intern positions you can get, the more you are bound to learn and the better job prospects you will have.

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