Our definition of a science technician
It is difficult to define what makes someone a science technician.
The word technician itself is often omitted from job titles because of its association with low status and low skilled support roles.
The truth is that science technicians cover a wide variety of highly skilled positions – they could be a software programmer in a research laboratory, or they could be a sound engineer in a recording studio.
“A technician is a person who is skilled in the use of particular techniques and procedures to solve practical problems, often in ways that require considerable ingenuity and creativity. Technicians typically work with complex instruments and equipment, and require specialised training, as well as considerable practical experience, in order to do their job effectively” (Barley and Orr 1997: 12-15; OECD 2002: 92-94; Technician Council 2011). Lewis & Gospel 2011
They are effective problem-solvers, managing complex processes and mathematical concepts to ensure accuracy, efficiency, and consistency. They support the use of the scientific method to broaden understanding, analyse results, and deliver the benefits of real discovery.
They are highly sought-after, praised for their unique skills and expertise, and can reach senior positions in many industries. But despite the opportunities, there is a shortage of science technicians in the UK.
The use of technician is returning in job descriptions – an acknowledgement that scientific progress will be limited without a skilled technical workforce.
Technicians often work in coordinated teams spanning different disciplines and geographies, working together to tackle contemporary research questions. And they develop new and improved approaches to implement technologies and methodologies to better address these questions.
They include: data scientists, data engineers, archivists, informaticians, statisticians, software developers, audio-visual technologists, technical professional staff and individuals staffing core facilities, across all disciplines.
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© Science Council 2017