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Occupational Profile

Biological Technician

Biological technicians perform routine analysis and technical duties in the field, in the laboratory or both. They provide technical support and services for scientists and engineers working in fields such as agriculture, environmental science, resource management, plant and animal biology, microbiology, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, and health sciences.

  • Avg. Salary $58,415.00
  • Avg. Wage $30.79
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Biological Sciences Technician/Technologist, Environmental Technician/Technologist

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

56%
56%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Biological Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Biological Technicians
NOC code: 2221.2
METHODICAL

Interest in assisting biologists to conduct laboratory analyses and biological, microbiological and biochemical tests

objective

Interest in precision working with laboratory equipment to conduct experiments and tests

innovative

Interest in compiling information to assist in conducting field research and surveys; and in collecting data and samples

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Biological technicians' duties and responsibilities vary greatly depending on their training and experience, and where they are employed. They may:

  • conduct field and laboratory tests
  • operate, maintain and calibrate equipment for field tests and surveys
  • isolate, identify and prepare specimens for study
  • grow cultures under controlled conditions
  • collect field data
  • maintain quality control and assurance 
  • analyze data and report results
  • manage approvals and permits related to research ethics and handling of hazardous materials.

Depending on the type of technical work, biological technicians also may:

  • conduct or supervise operational programs such as fish hatcheries, or greenhouse or livestock production programs
  • conduct biological, microbiological, chemical and biochemical tests
  • conduct plant and animal inventory surveys to gather information on plant and animal distribution and abundance
  • prepare progress reports on surveys for research biologists
  • set up and maintain specific or general laboratory areas
  • prepare reagents, perform analyses and maintain equipment in laboratories
  • collect information for industry (for example, regarding land use or reclamation)
  • supervise junior staff.

The degree of responsibility biological technicians have in determining and defining laboratory programs and field work is directly related to their education and experience.

Working Conditions
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Working environments vary considerably in this occupation. Biological technicians primarily may work indoors in laboratories and offices or outdoors in all weather conditions. Some work in both indoor and outdoor environments. Those who work outdoors may be required to travel to remote locations or operate transport equipment such as boats, quads or four-wheel trucks with standard transmissions.

Lifting requirements generally range up to 10 kilograms but some types of work are more physically demanding. Biological technicians who conduct microbial tests and laboratory analyses must take health and safety precautions to avoid exposure to infectious bacteria and viruses. Those who work in the field may be exposed to fungi, viruses or other biological agents.

Hours of work also vary. Long hours may be required including evening or weekend work. Some jobs are seasonal.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Biological technicians need the following characteristics:

  • good communication skills
  • good health and physical stamina
  • the ability to keep detailed, accurate records
  • the finger dexterity required to adjust microscopes and other fine instruments
  • the ability to work independently and in a team environment.

They should enjoy having clear guidelines and organized methods for their work, working with laboratory apparatus at tasks requiring precision, and gathering data in the field.

Educational Requirements
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Most employers require biological technicians to have related post-secondary education:a two-year diploma related to biological sciences or an equivalent number of university courses. Employers also may require applicants to have:

  • first aid training
  • Workplace Hazards and Materials Information System (WHMIS) training
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) training
  • a valid driver's license (preferably with no demerits)
  • no criminal record.

Additional specialized training is often required in the areas of research ethics including biohazard, human subject handling and/or animal use protocol training.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Yellowhead Tribal College Edmonton - AB

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Certified Technician

Under general supervision, certified technicians undertake the routine application of industry recognized codes, standards, procedures and practices. They use established engineering, geoscience or applied science principles and methods of problem solving. Duties may typically include testing, troubleshooting, inspecting, calibrating, drafting, maintaining, modelling, compiling, estimating, surveying, ensuring quality control, supervising in the field and working in sales.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act (PDF) and ASET Regulation (PDF), you must be a registered member of the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) to use the title Certified Technician (C.Tech.). You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Certified Technician.

Education

Registration requires:

  • graduation from an applied science, information technology or engineering technology program
  • at least 2 years of acceptable technical experience
  • 3 professional references
  • submission of a competency report, demonstrating at least 3 C.Tech. competencies
  • successful completion of ASET's Professional Practice Exam
  • demonstration of proficiency in English.

For detailed official information, contact the regulatory organization below.

Working in Alberta

Technicians who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified technicians in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory organization below.

To learn about the certification process for internationally educated technicians, see Mechanical Engineering Technician Certification Process (PDF) on AlbertaCanada.com.

Contact Details

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET)
1600 - 9888 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 5C6
Phone: 780-425-0626
Toll-free in Alberta: 1-800-272-5619
Fax: 780-424-5053
Email: asetadmin@aset.ab.ca
Website: www.aset.ab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Biological technicians may be employed by:

  • food processing and manufacturing companies
  • biofuel and biorefining companies
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • oil and chemical companies
  • agricultural firms
  • research and development facilities
  • biological and environmental consulting firms
  • federal and provincial government departments dealing with parks, fish and wildlife, agriculture and public lands
  • forensic laboratories
  • university and college research laboratories.

Competition for positions is keen. Many new entrants into this occupation work in seasonal or part time jobs before they obtain permanent positions.

Advancement opportunities for biological technicians are limited. Master's and doctoral degrees are required for most research and management positions.

Biological technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2221: Biological Technologists and Technicians. In Alberta, 76% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Salaries for biological technicians vary greatly depending on their education and experience, and where they work.

For more information see ASET's annual salary survey.

Biological technologists and technicians
NOC code: 2221

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.50 $38.03 $25.60 $25.67
Overall $18.16 $48.69 $30.79 $30.96
Top $21.00 $53.15 $36.97 $36.30

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

56%
56%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

23%
23%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

9%
9%

2015 Vacancy Rate

3%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Feb 08, 2016

Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta - ASET website: www.aset.ab.ca

ECO Canada (Environmental Careers Organization) website: www.eco.ca

Canadian Environmental Certification Approvals Board website: www.cecab.org

Environmental Services Association of Alberta website: www.esaa.org

Fisheries Management Career Path (Alberta Sustainable Resources Development) website: srd.alberta.ca/AboutUs/Careers/FisheriesManagement.aspx

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 27, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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