|Also Known As
The following alternate titles reflect the various areas in which biological techs can specialize:
Biological techs work in laboratories and in the field in a wide range of industries and work environments. It is their job to help scientists, doctors, engineers, and other professionals find the scientific answers they need. Generally, biological techs collect and analyze samples of things like seeds, water, food, and drugs. Once the samples are analyzed, techs write reports on their findings. Biological techs also operate and maintain laboratory and field equipment, including microscopes and sample kits.
Below are descriptions that describe the duties of techs.
Biological technologists perform some or all of the following duties:
Biological technicians perform some or all of the following duties:
Duties of biological techs depend on the area they work in. Biological techs in pharmacology, for example, may test the effects of different medicines on bacteria. Techs in natural resources may measure the quality of soil or water. Some techs test new food additives for food manufacturers. Others work in cosmetics, crime investigation, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.
Biological techs should:
They work for federal and provincial governments, universities, and private companies in the following areas:
Biological techs might work indoors in laboratories and offices or outdoors in all weather conditions, or a combination of both. Those who work outdoors might have to travel to remote locations or operate transport equipment, such as boats, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), or trucks. Apart from any field trips that may be necessary, travel is not usually required.
Most biological techs work 7 to 9 hours a day, 40 to 50 hours a week. Part-time work may also be available. Weekend work and overtime are quite common. Some jobs are seasonal.
Lifting of up to 10 kilograms may be required, but some types of work are more physically demanding.
Biological techs must follow safety procedures and use safety equipment to minimize risk when working with dangerous substances such as infectious bacteria, radioactive agents, and hazardous chemicals.
Employers are looking for individuals with a diploma or certificate in a related college program such as:
A technician program takes 1 to 2 years. Some large employers require techs to have a diploma, so it’s a good idea to complete a program that lasts at least 2 years. A technologist program takes 2 to 3 years.
Certification is available but voluntary. It is available through the provincial chapters of the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CCTT). A period of supervised work experience, usually 2 years, is required before certification is granted. For biological techs working in the environmental field, certification is also available through ECO Canada. Certification proves that you have attained a level of expertise, and it may be required for some positions.
Employers may also require applicants to have:
Computer-based skills, such as bioinformatics and molecular modelling, are becoming more important as companies and researchers integrate traditional and information sciences.
In the aquaculture field, there are fewer than 12 facilities in Canada offering aquaculture training, ranging from technical short courses to technology diplomas, degrees and post-graduate studies.
Employers may test language ability because it is important for workers to understand instructions and share information to complete tasks properly and work safely. Strong written and verbal communication skills are important, as are computer skills. Biological techs must be able to share the results of their work in an organized manner.
Below are examples of tasks where biological techs use communication skills on the job:
To see examples of how other Essential Skills are used by biological techs in the workplace go to Explore Careers by Essential Skills on the Working in Canada website.
The ability to speak and write in multiple languages can be an advantage in Canada’s multicultural environment.
Wages are affected by the workers’ level of education, the amount and nature of work experience, and job responsibilities. The job location, work conditions, and whether the workforce is unionized or not also makes a difference. The figures provided below reflect a national average for low, median (mid-point), and high wages (before taxes).
|$14 per hour
|$21 per hour
|$38 per hour
|$29,120 per year
|$43,680 per year
|$79,040 per year
For wage information in specific regions or cities in Canada, see Working in Canada’s Explore Careers by Wages.
Transferring skills and moving to different jobs within this occupational group can be difficult.
The level of responsibility a biological tech might have in a laboratory program or in field work is related to their education and experience. People who work in these jobs must continue training and developing to keep up with new information and changing technology. People with degrees have a better chance for advancement than those with diplomas. Workers with strong interpersonal, business, and project management skills will have the best job prospects in a tight labour market.
More information about biological techs and related industries is available at the following sites: