Biotechnology Lab Workers

Also Known As
Laboratory Assistants Lab Support Workers
Lab Techs Biochemistry Lab Techs
Bio-economy Lab Workers

What are the roles of Biotechnology Lab Workers in Canada?

Biotechnology lab workers perform bench work and laboratory procedures under the supervision of laboratory techs, laboratory researchers, research scientists and other senior staff in the industry of biotechnology.

What are the main duties of Biotechnology Lab Workers in Canada?

  • follow protocols and safety guidelines
  • check data and make sure to follow the rules when taking samples
  • analyze samples and confirm results
  • interpret, share, and record data using scientific knowledge
  • manage quality and use resources efficiently
  • solve problems using critical thinking
  • manage time, materials, information, and change in the workplace
  • meet legal and ethical requirements

What are the desired traits of Biotechnology Lab Workers in Canada?

Biotechnology lab workers should:

  • be able to adapt to changes in priorities
  • have a strong work ethic to meet deadlines
  • have good observation skills and pay attention to detail
  • be able to work in a fast-paced environment
  • be able to identify the priority among multiple work tasks
  • appreciate the importance of their supportive role
  • be able to work well in teams and have an approachable and friendly attitude
  • be good communicators, with strong speaking, reading, and writing skills

They should also be:

  • self-motivated and directed
  • honest, for example, when providing research results
  • willing to continue learning, both skills and knowledge

Where do Biotechnology Lab Workers work?

  • Companies
    • agri-biotech, for example, functional foods*, animal nutrition supplements, livestock vaccines, plant genetics, animal genetics
    • bio-energy, for example, biodiesel, ethanol, methane, bio-oil
    • bio-health, for example, medical devices, biopharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, natural-compound bioactives
    • bio-industrial, for example, bioadhesives, biocatalysts, biocoatings, biosolvents, bioplastics
  • University and government research labs
  • Hospitals

* functional foods are foods that have a positive effect on health beyond nutrition

What might the typical work conditions be?

The nature of the work environments varies depending on the type of organization. Look for information about the specific types of organizations, such as those developing medical devices or animal nutrition supplements to learn about work environments.

What qualifications are Canadian employers looking for?

Employers want to hire lab workers with at least a college or technical school diploma from a laboratory technician or technologist program. Some lab workers may have a university bachelor’s degree in chemistry or biology. Employers also want employees with practical experience in biotechnology or a related industry.

What communication skills do employers expect?

Language skills in both formal and informal communication are very important to employers as miscommunications can be costly and time-consuming. A lab tech must be able to write clear documentation and have clear discussions with other staff. The industry requires accurate and concise documentation.

What is the wage for this occupation?

National averages are not available for this occupation. To get an idea of how much money lab workers earn, review job postings for this occupation on job search websites.

What opportunities for advancement are available to Biotechnology Lab Workers?

For information about career opportunities, refer to BioTalent Canada’s Career Pathways for laboratory workers.

What are some hiring practices in biotechnology that job seekers should consider?

  • Although biotechnology is a technical field, the skills rated most important by bio-economy employers in 2013 were interpersonal skills, for example, cooperation, teamwork, and communication.
  • Highlight your interpersonal skills in your resume and job interviews. Remember the importance of interpersonal skills when on the job.
  • Outsourcing is a common solution used by bio-economy companies to fill job vacancies and skills shortages. Sometimes outsourced workers are local or from another location in Canada, and sometimes they live and work outside of Canada, for example, in the United States, Europe, China, South-East Asia, or India.
  • In 2013, 52% of bio-economy companies employed internationally educated professionals.
  • Bio-economy employers use many different ways to find new employees. The numbers represent the percentage of employers who used each method in 2013.
    • Personal contacts and employee referrals = 81%
    • Job banks and the Internet = 72%
    • Company website = 62%
    • Social media = 50%
    • BioTalent’s PetriDish™ job board = 34%

Where can I find out more about Biotechnology Lab Workers in Canada?

Career tools and more details about the bio-economy are available at BIOTEC Canada and BioTalent Canada.

BioTalent Canada is a non-profit, national organization that deals with human resources information, skills development, and job opportunities in Canada’s bio-economy. Their website offers resources for career planning and training, as well as job postings. Specific resources for job searching include:

  • The PetriDish. A job board.
  • BioTech Resume Builder. An online resume tool.
  • BioSkills Recognition Program.  For a fee, applicants complete a BioSkills Transfer Tool and Portfolio which is reviewed by a board. When a portfolio is approved, the individual receives a BioReady designation. Applicants must be legally approved to work in Canada and be fluent in English.