A lab assistant performs standard laboratory tests, such as testing oil and soap products, determining colour value by subjecting material to light, and testing raw stock for moisture content.
Who can I work for?
You can find work in organisations with laboratories, such as hospitals or environmental agencies, as well as in organisations within the pharmaceutical industry.
Where and when can I work?
Hours vary depending on the company worked for and the work being undertaken.
What can I earn?
With little or no experience you can expect a salary of between £14,000 and £19,000, although if you hold qualifications within this area, you may earn a higher salary.
What are the benefits?
Progression is well worth it as managers can earn in excess of £40,000.
Are there chances of promotion?
Although careers often develop quite slowly, with no particular structure, lab assistants are likely to move to lab management positions after several years of experience. Many lab assistants also go on to become specialists in their field.
What will I be responsible for?
You can expect your responsibilities to include performing laboratory tests, preparing specimens and samples, ensuring the laboratory is well stocked, conducting searches on identified topics and following safety procedures.
Do I need any experience?
Experience isn't really needed, although qualifications are. An HND in chemistry, physics, biology or technology is likely to stand you in good stead, while a degree will too.
Due to the nature of laboratory work, normal colour vision is essential. Excellent record-keeping skills are also required, along with basic maths and computing. As you progress through your career, you may also need to learn how to supervise other members of staff.
What attributes are needed?
Lab assistants need to have perfect colour vision, due to the nature of the laboratory work, as well as basic maths and computing skills. Those wanting to progress will need to gain experience in supervising other members of staff.