Skills Needed for a Laboratory Technician

By Neal Litherland, eHow Contributor
updated: May 27, 2010

Laboratory technicians are the men and women who perform low-level, day-to-day tests in chemical and medical laboratories. Whether it’s a forensics blood test or a simple drug test going on in a medical screening lab, laboratory technicians perform many vital functions that are too complex for machines but which are still routine. There are a number of skills that make it easier for laboratory technicians to perform their duties as well.

Problem Solving
One of the most important skills for a laboratory technician is the ability to problem solve. Laboratory technicians are responsible for running tests which are too routine for doctors or nurses, and those higher up medical professionals don’t appreciate being called down to the lab whenever something goes wrong. Therefore a laboratory technician who can take the initiative and find solutions to problems as they occur (whether it’s prioritizing tests or figuring out how to fill in scheduling gaps) will be valued much more than one who can just run tests like a machine.
Manual Dexterity
Laboratory technicians that have a high manual dexterity as well as good hand-eye coordination are also valued in their field. Laboratory technicians have to manipulate machines as well as chemicals, and this manipulation may be in very small amounts. Laboratory technicians will have to flip switches, type in commands, pour liquids into beakers, label test tubes and accomplish a variety of other things that will require nimble fingers. Fortunately this is a skill that can be improved through practice and exercise.
Attention to detail and the ability to focus are both highly desirable skills for a laboratory technician. No matter how routine a given battery of tests might be a laboratory technician should be able to devote his entire attention to what he’s doing while he keeps an eye out for what may seem like a minor discrepancy at the time. Oftentimes it’s these small details that will be the important facts that a laboratory technician will discover in the course of his work.


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