Jobs

Technicians and lab managers
play essential roles
in academic research labs

Elizabeth Stivison
November 08, 2019

This week I’ve been thinking about what to do when you want to stay fully immersed in academic research but don’t want to go down the path toward running your own lab. One option is to be a senior technician or lab manager. 

Sometimes people think of a technician position as one you might take for a few years after college, and that can be the case for some people. However, senior technicians and lab managers can play important long-term roles in labs. They can become the lab’s go-to resource for protocols and training, and their essential insights come from working in the lab long-term.

jobs-lab-manage-thumb.png
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

The jobs vary quite a bit. Some focus on the running of the lab, organizing paperwork and reagents, and keeping the lab members up to date with training requirements, while other jobs focus on working on independent research projects, writing up papers, and presenting at conferences. Other still are a  mix of all of the above.

The schooling requirements for technicians and lab managers vary. Some jobs require only a bachelors’ degree, while some hiring managers strongly prefer applicants to have a master’s or even a Ph.D.

For someone starting out, The Rockefeller University is looking for a research assistant to study neurophysiology in the fruit fly. This person will carry out brain dissection, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy and other experimental tasks as well as assisting the lab manager in the organization and running of the lab. A bachelor’s degree is required.

For the more experienced tech, Case Western Reserve University is looking for a research assistant 3 to act as the lab manager and to carry out protein–protein and protein–lipid interaction studies, develop protocols, and train new lab members. They are looking for someone with at least a bachelor’s, though higher degrees are preferred, and three to five years of experience.

For an experienced tech who would like to work with undergraduates, Providence College is looking for a lab manager to develop protocols and carry out experiments with fruit flies. The lab manager will work with students in the lab and work with the PI to help plan outreach events.  A bachelor’s is required, though higher degrees are preferred.

For someone who would like to focus on the organization and running of labs (and less on carrying out their own research), Occidental College is looking for a lab manager to do just that for its biology teaching labs. This lab manager will focus on running and organizing the teaching labs in the biology department. This involves many tasks, including: keeping up to date with safety protocols and animal protocols, managing the animal stocks, maintaining materials that must be created in-house such as DNA preps, and teaching how to properly use equipment such as microscopes. A bachelor’s or master’s is required.

Elizabeth Stivison

Elizabeth Stivison is a postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University studying inositol signaling.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in Careers

Careers highlights or most popular articles

A career supporting research innovation
Jobs

A career supporting research innovation

December 04, 2020

Careers columnist Martina G. Efeyini talked to Kerisha Bowen about how she transitioned from organic chemist to patent agent.

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities
Announcement

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities

November 29, 2020

What's happening this week: Deadline for grants for students with disabilities and seminar on phosphoinositide lipids.

Get and keep a handle on the literature
Professional Development

Get and keep a handle on the literature

November 27, 2020

Whether you're new to the field or trying to do a better job of staying up to date, these tools and techniques will help.

A sign that we don’t care
Education

A sign that we don’t care

November 24, 2020

Maybe it’s on a door at your own institution.

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities
Announcement

Calendar of events, awards and opportunities

November 22, 2020

New this week: It's time to submit your abstract for the ASBMB Annual Meeting! Plus, get ready for a celebration of the Protein Data Bank.

“You’ve got … to get outside of your comfort zone”
Interview

“You’ve got … to get outside of your comfort zone”

November 20, 2020

Wayne Fairbrother leads a department at Genentech tasked with validating disease-associated targets and determining whether they could be feasible for drug development.