Biological technologists and technicians (NOC 2221)

About this job

Biological technologists and technicians provide technical support and services to scientists, engineers and other professionals working in fields such as agriculture, resource management, environmental protection, plant and animal biology, microbiology, cell and molecular biology and health sciences.

People in this occupation:

  • work independently in these fields
  • are employed both in laboratory and field settings by government, manufacturers of food products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, biotechnology companies, health, research and educational institutions, environmental consulting companies and resource and utilities companies
  • have an interest in natural processes
  • should be able to make precise observations, draw conclusions from data, and communicate technical information clearly and accurately
  • must also be flexible and versatile, particularly when undertaking field work
Common job titles
  • culturist, fish
  • examiner, forensic - hair and fibre
  • foreperson, zoo
  • technologist, ecological
  • technologist, fish farm
  • technologist, forensic laboratory
  • culturist, fish
  • examiner, forensic - hair and fibre
  • foreperson, zoo
  • technologist, agricultural sciences
  • technologist, agrology / agronomy
  • technologist, aquaculture

Duties

Technologists usually have a higher or more specialized level of training than technicians.

Biological technologists

  • Set up and conduct biological, microbiological and biochemical tests and laboratory analyses in support of research and quality control in food production, sanitation, pharmaceutical production, biotechnology and other fields
  • Apply methods and techniques such as microscopy, histochemistry, chromatography, electrophoresis and spectroscopy
  • Perform experimental procedures in agriculture, plant breeding, animal husbandry, biology and biomedical research
  • Conduct field research and surveys to collect data and samples of water, soil, and plant and animal populations
  • Conduct environmental monitoring and compliance activities for the protection of fisheries stock, wildlife and other natural resources
  • Analyze data and prepare reports
  • Conduct or supervise operational programs such as fish hatchery, greenhouse and livestock production programs.

Biological technicians

  • Assist in conducting biological, microbiological and biochemical tests and laboratory analyses
  • Perform limited range of technical functions in support of agriculture, plant breeding, animal husbandry, biology, biomedical research and environmental protection
  • Assist in conducting field research and surveys to collect data and samples of water, soil, and plant and animal populations
  • Assist in analysis of data and preparation of reports.

Work environment

Biological technologists and technicians typically work a 35 to 40-hour work week. Some jobs, such as fisheries management, can require shift work and extended hours. Other jobs can require workers to relocate to remote sites for extended periods of time.

Most biological technologists and technicians work indoors in laboratories, offices or production facilities although outdoor field work is often required and may include travel into wilderness areas or onto the open ocean.

Field work can be physically demanding, and workers may be required to bend, lift, stretch and work on their feet all day. Workers can be exposed to toxic substances or bodily fluids, however, appropriate safety measures are followed in order to minimize health risks. Some aspects of the work may be dirty or involve high levels of odour, depending on the particular job or the industry where the work is being done

Insights from industry

Of the new opportunities that arise, a significant number will come from the need to replace retiring workers.

Biological technologists and technicians are employed across a variety of industries, including government, health care, biotechnology, fisheries, environmental consulting and education. This diverse employment base means that job growth in this occupation generally mirrors the overall growth of the provincial economy.

The Professional business services industry employs biological technologists and technicians in the provision of services such as environmental consulting, laboratory services and services to biotechnology companies. These areas are all expected to see increased levels of economic activity and employment growth.

The growing prominence of environmental issues for federal, provincial and municipal government agencies will create additional employment opportunities for biological technologists and technicians. Similarly, the Health care industry is experiencing higher demands as the population ages and requires increasing health care services.

The introduction of automation technology, such as auto-samplers, will result in a need for fewer workers to do the same volume of work. However, biological technologists and technicians who have basic instrumentation skills will be in demand to maintain and trouble-shoot these pieces of equipment.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Some technologists and technicians working in support of government and academic research in biology are university graduates. Biological technologists and technicians can advance to supervisory positions or start their own businesses with experience. However there is limited mobility between the occupations in this group.

Additional resources