Main Topic: Environment and Society
Secondary Topic: Physical Geography
Overview: Biological technicians, sometimes called laboratory assistants, typically are responsible for doing scientific tests, experiments, and analyses under the supervision of biologists (such as microbiologists) or medical scientists who direct and evaluate their work. Biological technicians use traditional laboratory instruments, advanced robotics, and automated equipment to conduct experiments. They use specialized computer software to collect, analyze, and model experimental data. Some biological technicians, such as those who assist the work of zoologists and wildlife biologists, may collect samples in the field, so they may need the ability to hike rugged terrain or otherwise travel through wilderness areas.
Biological technicians work in many research areas. They may assist medical researchers by administering new medicines and treatments to laboratory animals. They may separate proteins from other cell material and analyze data from an experiment. Biological technicians working in a microbiological context typically study living microbes and perform techniques specific to microbiology, such as staining specimens to aid identification. Biological technicians also may work in private industry and assist in the study of a wide range of topics concerning industrial production. They may test samples in environmental impact studies or monitor production processes to help ensure that products are not contaminated.
Geographic skills are essential for biological technicians. They need to understand the geographic patterns of the phenomena they are studying. If assisting zoologists and wildlife biologists, for example, they will likely use geographic information systems (GIS), modeling software, and other computer programs to estimate wildlife populations and track the movements of animals. If working with industrial pollution, as another example, they could track the geographic spread of the pollution and its effects on humans and the environment.
Geographers at work: Environmental geographers, biogeographers, medical geographers
Recommended College Courses: Environmental geography, biogeography, geographic information science, remote sensing, natural resource use and management, climatology, physical geography
Skills: Environmental mapping and modeling, geographic information systems, computer and database systems, spatial analysis, understanding and assessment of physical features (soils, topography, hydrology); map reading and interpretation
Occupation Group: Life, Physical, and Social Science
Learn more about Biological Technicians from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biological-technicians.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson