technicians need an associate degree or a certificate in applied science
or science-related technology. Many employers prefer
applicants who have at least 2 years of specialized training or an
associate degree in applied science or science-related technology.
Because employers' preferences vary, however, some chemical technicians
have a bachelor's degree in chemistry or
have completed several science and math courses at a 4-year college.
technician positions in research and development also often have a
bachelor's degree, but most chemical process technicians have a 2-year
degree instead, usually an associate degree in process technology. In
some cases, a high school diploma is sufficient. These workers usually
receive additional on-the-job training. Entry-level workers whose
college training encompasses extensive hands-on experience with a
variety of diagnostic laboratory equipment generally require less
Many technical and
community colleges offer associate degrees in a specific technology or
more general education in science and mathematics. A number of associate
degree programs are designed to provide easy transfer to bachelor's
degree programs at colleges or universities.
Some schools offer
cooperative-education or internship programs, allowing students the
opportunity to work at a local company or some other workplace while
attending classes during alternate terms. Participation in such programs
can significantly enhance a student's employment prospects.
People interested in
careers as science technicians should take as many high school science
and math courses as possible. Science courses taken beyond high school,
in an associate or bachelor's degree program, should be laboratory
oriented, with an emphasis on bench skills. A solid background in
applied chemistry, physics, and math is vital.
are important because technicians are often required to report their
findings both orally and in writing. In addition, technicians should be
able to work well with others. Because computers often are used in
research and development laboratories, technicians should also have
strong computer skills, especially in computer modeling. Organizational
ability, an eye for detail, and skill in interpreting scientific results
are important as well, as are a high mechanical aptitude, attention to
detail, and analytical thinking.
begin work as trainees in routine positions under the direct supervision
of a scientist or a more experienced technician. As they gain
experience, technicians take on more responsibility and carry out
assignments under only general supervision, and some eventually become
supervisors. However, technicians employed at universities often have
job prospects tied to those of particular professors; when those
professors retire or leave, these technicians face uncertain employment
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by
the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.