Laboratory Analyst Job Description
Laboratory analysts, also known as lab analysts, use specialized equipment to test and analyze specimens, samples, and materials. Medical, pharmaceutical, and chemical facilities, as well as professional labs, hire these analysts to work in laboratory environments of all types. Depending on their industry, lab analysts can test and assess materials from biological samples, such as DNA and blood, to environmental samples, such as water and industrial waste.
These professionals work full-time hours during all shifts, including nights and weekends, and report to the lab supervisor or shift manager. They also work as part of a team of lab technicians, assistants, and other analysts. They primarily work in labs, although lab analysts may spend some time working in an office. They do not typically travel to perform their normal job duties.
Laboratory Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
Daily duties for laboratory analysts vary based on the type of industry they work in and the materials processed by the hiring lab. However, there are several universal job tasks associated with this career that are the same for all laboratory analysts in all industries:
Set Up Equipment
Laboratory analysts set up test equipment in the lab to complete specific procedures.
Laboratory analysts perform complex chemical tests on materials and samples as requested or assigned.
They diligently log and analyze the data revealed by lab tests.
Laboratory analysts manage inventory supplies by keeping track of materials used and ordering new items as needed.
Maintain Lab Equipment
Laboratory analysts perform maintenance on lab equipment by making calibrations, cleaning equipment, replacing parts, and otherwise keeping equipment functioning properly. They also troubleshoot lab equipment to spot problems and report issues to the lab supervisor.
Adhere to Safety Regulations
Laboratory analysts follow safety standards and protocols at all times in regards to safe handling of materials and wearing proper protective equipment.
Laboratory analysts keep laboratory and work areas clean and organized.
Laboratory Analyst Skills and Qualifications
Laboratory analysts are detail-oriented professionals who use analytical skills and exacting procedures to test samples and materials with lab equipment. In addition to an advanced degree, often in conjunction with a specialized certification based on the industry, labs hire analysts who display the following:
- Analytical Skills – Lab analysts use their analytical skills to evaluate data found through complex testing processes
- Attention to Detail – They have strong attention to detail to follow specific testing protocols and adhere to rigid safety standards
- Computer Skills – Laboratory analysts also create digital reports using software programs like Microsoft Word and Excel, which requires them to have strong computer skills
- Communication Skills – Laboratory analysts use written and verbal communication skills to write reports and deliver their findings to lab supervisors
- Time Management – Because they prioritize their testing workload and run multiple tests on numerous materials in a single day, these professionals manage their tasks efficiently
Tools of the Trade
When they’re not in the office, laboratory analysts use:
- Lab Testing Tools – (cylinders, funnels, tongs, beakers, flasks, droppers, pipettes)
- Lab Equipment – (microscopes, Bunsen burners, slides)
- Safety Tools – (glasses, gloves, aprons, face shields)
Laboratory Analyst Education and Training
Laboratory analysts must have an associate degree, at minimum, in chemistry, applied science, or a related field. However, many employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. An associate degree in addition to previous experience working with lab equipment can suffice for education in the eyes of some employers. Employers also prefer candidates who have completed voluntary certification in their industy.
Laboratory analysts undergo a training program upon going to work in a new lab environment so that they can learn all the protocols and testing procedures used by the lab. The length of training varies by employer but can span several weeks. During this time, lab analysts are closely monitored by a senior lab analyst or the lab supervisor.
Laboratory Analyst Salary and Outlook
The 2017 median income for laboratory analysts, categorized as “Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians,” was $51,770 annually and $24.89 hourly, according to job data compiled by the Bureau Labor of Statistics. In 2016, medical and clinical lab techs occupied more than 300,000 jobs. This number is projected to grow by 13 percent through 2026, a rate that is faster than the national job growth average. According to PayScale, laboratory analysts who work in the chemical industry earn a median hourly wage of $17.01.
Laboratory analysts receive a complete benefits package from employers that includes health insurance with dental and vision coverage. They also receive paid vacation leave and sick days. Some companies offer additional perks, such as free meals, continuing education reimbursement, and wellness program memberships.
Use these resources to find job opportunities, networking events, career strategies, and lab testing tips for laboratory analysts in various fields:
American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) – Find lab news updates, learn about important lab-related political issues, and discover other resources for laboratory analysts and other lab workers at this website.
Basic Laboratory Procedures for the Operator-Analyst (Wef Special Publication) – Find out more about basic lab and wet chemistry procedures used most often to complete various water-based tests in this in-depth book by the Water Environment Foundation.
Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA) – This website contains an online learning center filled with educational resources, information about lab conferencing events, and a marketplace of laboratory products.
Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference, 13th edition – Use this reference tool to quickly find information about lab testing procedures that are commonly used in laboratory environments.
The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) – Visit this website to find career opportunities and information, training events, networking meetings, and communication resources to connect with other laboratory professionals.
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