A technician, as the name denotes, is one who works within the vast and diversified field of technology. Those aspiring to work in a DNA testing laboratory and wishing to take on the post as a laboratory technician may find the following information indeed useful as it highlights the roles, skills and competencies required for such a job. Entering the world of the DNA technician offers a plethora of choice; you could consider clinical DNA testing, DNA banking, research genomics, police departments and forensic laboratories.
The rapid and dynamic world we currently live in means new technologies are constantly being developed to make people’s lives more comfortable. Scientists have not stopped working and this evolving and kaleidoscopic field because technology plays such a momentous role in our lives; this incessant need for discovery and development means laboratory technicians can specialize and hone in on particular fields or areas of technology, seeking employment in specialized laboratories depending on their interests, qualifications, aspirations and ambitions.
The laboratory technician is an integral part of the team working in these scientific facilities. Depending on the laboratories throughput, processing rate, the type of tests or analysis, the result turnaround time and a myriad of other factors, the DNA laboratory technician’s workload may vary considerably. For example, some laboratories such easyDNA UK, homeDNAdirect, The Genetic Testing laboratory and several others offer express testing results which means that clients must have their DNA testing results in just two working days from receipt of samples. For Additional fees they may even offer clients an express new day testing service. This means that DNA analysts, scientists and technicians must work at a pace in order to deliver results in the promised time frames.
What is a laboratory technician?
Besides laboratory technicians, there are several others types of technicians including Emergency medical technician, Engineering technician, Pharmacy technician and veterinary technician. The term “laboratory technician” is in itself rather vague and actually is more of an umbrella term or general term that would refer to a range of posts in different laboratories. Even DNA testing laboratories are not all the same – for example, some laboratories might focus in forensic DNA testing or forensic toxicology whilst others may carry out genetic testing or simply direct-to-consumer DNA tests. The following are some further examples of posts that may require laboratory technicians:
- Microbiology Clinical Laboratory Technician
- IVF / assisted reproductive technology laboratory technician
- Reproductive Endocrinology Laboratory Technician
- Crime/DNA testing Technician
Some laboratory technicians are also employed by prisons to collect DNA samples (usually using oral swabs) from inmates and working on the analysis of samples collected at crime scenes. The DNA technician in such cases may even have access to government DNA databases in order to carry out comparisons of DNA profiles and helping to conclude the case.
The duties of the DNA laboratory technician
Different laboratories might have some requirements that differ from or are in additional to the below list. However, the duties below are those typically stipulated for such posts:
- Overseeing and managing all day to day tasks and operations and ensuring the smooth running of the laboratory.
- The technician will be directly involved in carrying out experiments and recording results from which conclusions and inferences can be made by themselves or senior lab analysts and scientists. The technician would directly be involved in the DNA extraction process, DNA cloning, and various tests in molecular biology such as the amplification of DNA using PCR polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing, STR analysis (Short Tandem Repeat testing) and others.
- A technician would create templates and formats to present data and findings. He or she would also come up with or follow experimentation protocols and supervise those below them in the laboratory experiments (for example, undergraduate students)
Laboratory DNA technician requirements
Most laboratories will require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in science, chemistry, biology, medical technology or a related field– this is usually a minimum requirement. They may also request a further minimum number of years of experience in a DNA testing laboratory or crime/ forensic laboratory. This said, some laboratories, such as secondary school laboratories or even some university laboratories might simply require a diploma. In some posts, the DNA technician will only be responsible for collecting the samples and logging them into a system. They will not be involved in the actual analysis or handling of the samples beyond the sample collection. Again, whether a degree or a diploma is required will depend on where the call for applications is being issued from.