Lab Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Lab Assistant, or Laboratory Assistant, supports Scientists and Researchers in conducting various tests and experiments. Their main duties include preparing test samples, keeping lab records and documenting test findings.

 

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Lab Assistant duties and responsibilities

Lab Assistants perform a variety of duties to help scientists and medical professionals. Lab Assistants have the following responsibilities:

  • Prepare lab equipment for upcoming research experiments
  • Report data and compile information into graphs and documents
  • Clean and maintain lab equipment
  • Use testing items and subjects to gather results
  • Gather data and information from test subjects
  • Monitor ongoing tests and experiments, noting any differences

 

What does a Lab Assistant do?

Lab Assistants work in a science laboratory collaborating with Researchers and Scientists to perform experiments. They’re typically responsible for collecting and preparing various testing samples using different types of lab equipment. They’re often in charge of managing and organization all of the lab’s records and other documents. Lab Assistants stay updated on lab policies, safety regulations and other procedures to keep all lab employees and experiments safe and compliant. 

They will usually work with the laboratory employees to conduct tests and experiments. The Lab Assistants will then take these results, analyze them and provide this information to their management team. They’ll also complete basic laboratory tasks, like labeling samples, cleaning the lab rooms and sterilizing equipment.

 

Lab Assistant skills and qualifications

Lab Assistants will typically have certain prerequisite skills or qualifications, which include:

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Research and analysis skills
  • Experience working with lab equipment 
  • Mathematic and measurement skills
  • Knowledge of computer research and analysis programs
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Ability to keep detailed records

 

Lab Assistant salary expectations

A Lab Assistant makes an average of $14.35 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

 

Lab Assistant education and training requirements

A minimum of an associate degree is often required to work as an entry-level Lab Assistant. A hiring manager may prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree for positions that require more technical assistance. A degree in biotechnology, biology or a related field is preferred for most positions, though employers could look for candidates with a degree specific to their industries. Some hiring managers may also prefer to hire Lab Assistant candidates who are certified through the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. 

 

Lab Assistant experience requirements

An entry-level Lab Assistant usually needs less than one year of experience as long as they have at least an associate degree. Lab Assistants without a degree usually need 2 or more years of related experience. Those with at least a bachelor’s degree can get an entry-level position once they graduate. Lab Assistants who need to perform highly technical duties usually need at least three years of specific experience. After gaining on-the-job training and additional experience, Lab Assistants receive more duties and responsibilities.

Lab Assistant samples for similar positions

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Frequently asked questions about Lab Assistants

 

Who does a Lab Assistant report to?

A Lab Assistant typically reports to the Scientist or Researcher in the laboratory, who will assign different tasks for the Lab Assistant to complete. Lab Assistants typically report to these employees if they have any complex questions about the data they’ve uncovered or about the results of an experiment. Some Lab Assistants may work in their role while they attend school with the hopes of eventually moving up to a Scientist or Researcher position, so they usually look to the Scientists and Researchers for guidance and advice. 

 

Do Lab Assistants have different responsibilities in different industries?

The duties a Lab Assistant is responsible for depends on the industry they work in. Some may work in diagnostic or hospital laboratories, where they conduct tests on samples to find ways to prevent, diagnose or cure different diseases or illnesses. 

Others work in forensic science labs, studying crime scene evidence to help solve certain criminal cases. There are also Lab Assistants who work in geoscience, studying the structure of the earth using complex lab equipment like electron microscopes and x-rays. 

 

What's the difference between a Lab Assistant and a Lab Tech?

Though they both assist scientists and researchers in labs, there are some key differences between a Lab Assistant and a Lab Tech when it comes to their responsibilities, skill level and education. Lab Assistants perform more clerical tasks, like cleaning and sterilizing lab rooms and equipment. They usually have a vocational or community college education and aren’t qualified to perform high-level tasks. 

Lab Technicians usually have at least an associate degree. They may complete tasks similar to a Lab Assistant, but are often given more responsibilities. They’re usually qualified to complete more complex tasks like conducting urinalysis and testing blood types. 

 

What makes a good Lab Assistant?

A great Lab Assistant should be highly analytical and skilled at reviewing and comprehending data from various experiments. They should also have a strong attention to detail to spot abnormalities or other issues in certain experiments and results. Effective Lab Assistants must also have extensive knowledge and experience working in a lab and using different lab equipment and tools. 

Impressive candidates should also have outstanding verbal and written communication skills to record and present various findings to their managers and other leadership members in the laboratory or facility.

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    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021