Career Survey: Lab Technician

This is a job that I have spent most of my life doing. There are some things about the job that I liked, and some things that I miss when I think about them. But most often, I hated this job.

This is not about an actual scientist job. This requires a graduate level degree. I made the mistake of never getting this degree, though I spent almost enough time in school to get it. I just dropped out because I hated it so much. Guess where the easiest place for me to get a job was? After all, my contacts and everything I knew for the past 7 years was science based.

Also note, that this is speaking of a technician for academic research only. I believe the corporate life is much better. Don’t believe the hype! Academic research gives you no more freedom than anything else. That freedom shit is bullshit to trick you to work for less.

Pros:

1. You get to use some really cool machines, and do some really cool experiments that nobody has ever done before.

2. You get paid to think, at least some of the time. You can use your mind to solve problems.

3. This is one of the best job to talk about during cocktail parties. When someone asks what do you do, and you say “investigate taste and smell”, for a moment, you are life of the party.

Cons:

1. You have to use some machines instead of just sitting in a desk like a normal white collar job. Since the experiments have never been done before, they might not work out like the boss says they will. Guess who gets blamed if things don’t work out?

2. They say they want you to think, but the boss can always shoots down your ideas which can hurt if you put a lot of time in it. Also, much of the work is grunt work which could be done by a child so it’s actually not that thought heavy as the boss reserves much of the deep thinking for himself.

3. The aspects of the job that people who go to cocktail parties like to hear get really boring after a while. Life on the job is not nearly as cool as it sounds.

4. As a lab technician with graduate level education, I managed to get paid less than my wife who had a HS diploma.

5. The job can actually be high pressure as the boss lives and dies based on grants. This means that the experiments, the ones that you preform, have to get the results that he wants.

6. The hours can suck. Since the boss worked for free for six years, guess how much he values your time? Since he’s in love with whatever obscure thing he’s researching, guess how much he cares that you don’t want to spend an unpaid weekend doing experiments? Basically they wish to pay you as much as a fast food worker, and work you hard as a doctor.

Overall, this job is for people who have a HS degree or some college and think that they’d like to do research for the rest of their lives. That’s right, many lab jobs give you the same work you’d get with a BS if you have the proper skills which can be gained by internships or volunteering. A year or two can pay the bills and allow one to live the good life in the big city. Longer than two years, and you start to look old like the staff at the local fast food joint. Ten years, and you’ll be an angry, bitter person.

There is no career advancement save for going back to school and working for free for 2 to six years (or more) while you get a graduate degree. Then you still make less than many paralegals and accountants who have less than half the higher level education than you do. You’ll have tons of debt, and a huge competition for mediocre career prospects.

I suggest getting an office job and watching lots of Dexter’s Laboratory.

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