Career Development

What Does a Cell Culture Technician Do?

Find out what a cell culture technician does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a cell culture technician.

Cell culture technicians are responsible for maintaining cell cultures—cultures of living cells that are grown in a controlled environment. These cultures are used to study the behavior and characteristics of individual cells, which can help scientists better understand how cells work together to form tissues and organs.

Cell culture technicians must be extremely detail-oriented and careful when handling these delicate cultures. They may also be tasked with performing routine maintenance on equipment or other items used during the cultivation process.

Cell Culture Technician Job Duties

Cell culture technicians have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Monitoring cell cultures for signs of contamination or other changes that may affect results
  • Maintaining inventory of lab supplies such as media, growth supplements, and equipment
  • Preparing solutions and reagents necessary for experiments
  • Preparing equipment and monitoring experiments for the scientist in charge of the lab
  • Recording data in a lab notebook or electronic logbook to track cell growth over time
  • Cultivating cells in culture by adding nutrients, removing waste products, and sterilizing equipment
  • Maintaining lab equipment such as incubators and water baths to ensure proper temperature control
  • Labeling, storing, and disposing of hazardous materials correctly
  • Cultivating microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and molds for scientific research

Cell Culture Technician Salary & Outlook

Cell culture technicians’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $45,498 ($21.87/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $83,000 ($39.9/hour)

The employment of cell culture technicians is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Cell culture technicians will be needed to maintain and repair equipment used in research laboratories. In addition, demand for biotechnology products, such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices, is expected to increase as scientists discover more ways to use cells and their components to treat diseases and other health problems.

Cell Culture Technician Job Requirements

A cell culture technician typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Cell culture technicians are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, microbiology or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in a science-related discipline.

Training & Experience: Cell culture technicians typically receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other experienced technicians. This training may include learning how to use laboratory equipment, how to handle and dispose of hazardous materials and how to maintain the cleanliness of the laboratory.

Certifications & Licenses: Cell culture technicians do not require certifications to earn their position. However, there are certifications available for cell culture technicians who wish to increase their earning potential or to give themselves a competitive edge over other candidates vying for the same positions.

Cell Culture Technician Skills

Cell culture technicians need the following skills in order to be successful:

Laboratory skills: Laboratory skills are the practical skills that a cell culture technician uses in their work. These include the ability to follow protocols, record data and perform experiments. This is the most important skill set for a cell culture technician because it’s what allows them to do their job well.

Communication skills: Cell culture technicians communicate with laboratory staff, managers and other technicians. They also communicate with suppliers and other professionals outside the laboratory. Effective communication skills can help cell culture technicians convey information clearly and understand information from others.

Attention to detail: When working with cell cultures, it’s important to follow the proper procedures to ensure the health of the cells. This requires attention to detail, as the smallest change in the environment can affect the cells. For example, if the temperature is too high or too low, it can affect the cells and cause them to die.

Scientific knowledge: The ability to understand scientific concepts and apply them to your work is an important skill for cell culture technicians. This is because the work they do is often based on scientific research. For example, they may need to understand the chemical processes that occur when cells grow and divide. They may also need to understand the role of different chemicals in the laboratory and how to use them properly.

Technological skills: As a cell culture technician, you may be required to use a variety of laboratory equipment and software. It’s important to have a basic understanding of the functions of the various tools and machines you may use in your job. You can also learn about the equipment and software through your employer or through online resources.

Cell Culture Technician Work Environment

Cell culture technicians work in laboratories and spend most of their time performing experiments and conducting research. They also spend considerable time writing reports about their work, lecturing or teaching about their research, and preparing grant proposals to federal or private agencies to secure funding to support their work. Because federal grants are extremely competitive, only the best-written and most scientifically up-to-date proposals will receive funding. Therefore, cell culture technicians must keep improving their skills and knowledge throughout their careers to keep up with new developments in the field and to advance their own research. Cell culture technicians may work the usual nine-to-five schedule, although they may be required to work late into the night and on weekends during critical periods of research. They may also work extra hours to complete research projects, write reports, or stay abreast about the latest developments in their specialty.

Cell Culture Technician Trends

Here are three trends influencing how cell culture technicians work. Cell culture technicians will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Diversity in the Workplace

The need for more diversity in the workplace is becoming increasingly important as businesses strive to be more inclusive. This trend is having a particularly large impact on the cell culture technician profession, which has traditionally been dominated by white men.

Cell culture technicians can play an important role in helping to diversify the workforce by promoting diversity and inclusion within their own departments. They can also work to create a welcoming environment for all employees, regardless of race or gender.

A Greater Focus on Quality Control

As the pharmaceutical industry continues to grow, so too does the demand for quality control professionals. Cell culture technicians are in high demand because they are responsible for ensuring that the products produced in labs are safe and meet regulatory standards.

In order to stay competitive, cell culture technicians will need to focus on developing skills that allow them to ensure the highest quality products. This may include training in quality control methods, testing procedures, or product development.

More Collaboration Between Scientists and Technicians

As science becomes more complex, there is an increasing need for collaboration between scientists and technicians. This is because many scientific experiments require specialized equipment that only technicians are trained to operate.

Cell culture technicians are in a unique position to take advantage of this trend, as they are able to work closely with both scientists and technicians to ensure that experiments run smoothly. By developing strong relationships with other members of the team, cell culture technicians can become indispensable members of the research community.

How to Become a Cell Culture Technician

A cell culture technician career can be a great way to get started in the medical field. As a cell culture technician, you’ll work with cells that are used for research and development of new medicines and treatments. This could include working with animal, plant, or human cells.

To become a cell culture technician, you’ll need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as some experience working with laboratory equipment. You may also want to take courses in biology and chemistry.

Related: How to Write a Cell Culture Technician Resume

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects for cell culture technicians are good. With experience, technicians can move into lead positions, where they will oversee the work of other technicians. They may also move into management positions, where they will be responsible for a team of technicians. In addition, cell culture technicians who have a bachelor’s degree or higher may be able to find jobs as research scientists.

Cell Culture Technician Job Description Example

We are seeking an experienced cell culture technician to join our team in the development of new cell lines for research and production purposes. The ideal candidate will have a strong working knowledge of aseptic technique and cell culture methods, as well as experience with common cell culture equipment and techniques. He/She will be responsible for the maintenance of cell lines, including passaging, freezing, and thawing of cells, and will be expected to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Additionally, the cell culture technician will be responsible for documenting all procedures and maintaining accurate records.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Perform all cell culture activities in compliance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), and safety regulations
  • Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of all cell culture activities
  • Operate, maintain, and troubleshoot cell culture equipment
  • Prepare cell culture media and reagents according to SOPs
  • Perform cell counts and viability assays
  • Seed, passage, and cryopreserve cells
  • Monitor cell cultures for contamination and perform quality control testing as needed
  • Assist with the development and optimization of new cell culture protocols
  • Train new personnel on cell culture techniques
  • Keep work areas clean and organized
  • Order supplies and maintain inventory
  • Adhere to all safety policies and procedures

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in biology, biochemistry, or related field
  • 1-2 years of experience working with cell culture
  • Aseptic technique training
  • Ability to follow detailed protocols
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Good communication skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in biology, biochemistry, or related field
  • 2-4 years of experience working with cell culture
  • GMP training
  • GLP training
  • SOP writing experience

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