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Biological Technician

Biological technicians do routine analysis and technical work in the field, lab or both. They provide technical support and services for scientists and engineers. They may work in agriculture, environmental science, resource management, plant and animal biology, microbiology, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, or health sciences.

  • Avg. Salary $71,632.00
  • Avg. Wage $37.18
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Biological Sciences Technician / Technologist, Environmental Technician / Technologist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Biological Technicians (2221.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Biological Technologists and Technicians (C121) 
  • 2011 NOC: Biological technologists and technicians (2221) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Biological Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Biological Technicians
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 Mar 31, 2018

Biological technicians’ duties vary depending on their training, experience, and where they work. They may:

  • conduct field and lab tests
  • operate, maintain and adjust equipment for field tests and surveys
  • isolate, identify and prepare specimens for study
  • grow cultures in controlled conditions
  • collect field data
  • maintain quality control and assurance
  • study data and report results
  • manage approvals and permits (related to research ethics and handling hazardous materials).

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

  • conduct or supervise operational programs (such as fish hatcheries) or production programs (such as greenhouse or livestock)
  • 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 lab areas
  • prepare re-agents, perform analyses and maintain lab equipment
  • collect information for industry (such as on land use or reclamation)
  • supervise junior staff.

A biological technician’s education and experience determines the nature and level of responsibility they have on the job.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Work settings vary a lot. Biological technicians may do most of their work indoors in labs and offices. They may work outdoors in all weather conditions. Some technicians work in both settings. Those who work outdoors may travel to remote locations and drive boats, quads, or trucks with standard transmissions.

Some types of work are more physically demanding. Some work involves microbial tests and lab analyses. Technicians doing this type of work must follow health and safety rules. This helps them avoid exposure to infectious bacteria and viruses. Fieldwork can expose technicians to fungi, viruses, or other biological agents.

Hours of work can vary. Long hours may be required, including evenings and weekends. Some jobs are seasonal.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Biological technicians need to possess:

  • speaking, listening and writing skills
  • good health and physical stamina
  • the ability to keep detailed, accurate records
  • fine motor skills (to work effectively with microscopes and precision instruments)
  • the ability to work on their own and on a team.

They should enjoy:

  • having clear guidelines and organized work methods
  • doing detailed work with lab equipment
  • gathering data in the field.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Most employers require a 2-year diploma related to biological sciences. Some will accept an equivalent number of courses. Employers also may require applicants to have:

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

Training in research ethics is often needed (including in biohazards, human subject handling or animal use protocols).


Related Education

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

Evergreen College - Calgary

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 Mar 31, 2018

Certified Technician

Under general supervision, certified technicians routinely apply industry-recognized codes, standards, procedures and practices. They use established engineering, geoscience or applied science principles and methods to solve problems. Duties may include testing, troubleshooting, inspecting, calibrating, drafting, maintaining, modelling, compiling, 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.

What You Need

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
  • Proficiency in English

For detailed official information, contact ASET.

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 in Canada? and the ASET website.

To learn about the certification process for internationally educated technicians, see Mechanical Engineering Technician Certification Process [pdf] on the Opportunity Alberta website.

Contact Details

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET)
1600, 9888 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 5C6
Canada

Call: 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 Mar 31, 2018

Biological technicians may work for:

  • food processing and manufacturing firms
  • biofuel and bio-refining firms
  • pharmaceutical firms
  • oil and chemical firms
  • agricultural firms
  • research and development facilities
  • biological and environmental consulting firms
  • government departments that deal with parks, fish and wildlife, agriculture, and public lands
  • forensic labs
  • post-secondary research labs.

Competition for positions is keen. Many new entrants do seasonal or part-time work before they get permanent positions.

Prospects for advancement are limited. Master’s and doctoral degrees are needed 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 [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • 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 Mar 31, 2018

Earnings for biological technicians vary greatly depending on education, experience and location.

Biological technologists and technicians

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 $18.15 $41.20 $30.97 $30.72
Overall $19.50 $53.32 $37.18 $36.89
Top $22.75 $53.32 $39.98 $41.47

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
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

53%
53%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

51%
51%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

19%
19%

Vacancy Rate

7%
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 Mar 31, 2018

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

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

ECO Canada website: www.eco.ca

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

Government of Alberta website, fisheries and wildlife management career paths: aep.alberta.ca/about-us/careers-and-jobs/how-to-apply/about-career-paths.aspx

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. 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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