Working conditions of science technicians vary greatly, with some working on their own (usually in smaller schools) and others working as part of a team. Some support specific science areas (biology, physics or chemistry) whereas others are all-rounders and support all subjects and levels. The role generally includes some or all of the following:
- maintaining equipment
- constructing and modifying apparatus
- setting up experiments
- taking an active part in laboratory demonstrations
- ordering resources and keeping budgets
- helping in practical classes
- giving technical help to pupils and students
- always meeting current health and safety standards
Entry requirements vary between schools and LAs but generally in secondary level schools employers ask for at least GCSEs or equivalent. Where technicians are expected to support students more directly and up to A-Level, employers may ask for higher qualifications in specific science subjects.
Click here to download a standard technician role profile from Skills4Schools
Training & CPD
CPD courses for science technicians are widely available through providers including CLEAPSS, the SSERC, the ASE and STEM Learning.
Through the Association for Science Education (ASE), science educators are able to develop their professional expertise and knowledge, as well as gaining recognition for these activities through RSciTech for science technicians, RSci for scientists, CSciTeach for science teachers and Primary Science Quality Mark. These awards raise the profile of science teaching and learning, and for individuals, provide recognition of their expertise and commitment.
Many science technicians networks exist throughout the UK, many of which have an online community here: https://community.preproom.org/index.php?groups.
Support & Resources
Gratnells run an annual Science Technician of the Year award (STOTY) celebrating the work of science technicians and teams in the UK and abroad.
The Salters Institute run a National Awards for Science Technicians aiming to highlight the important role played by school and college technician teams.
Preproom.org school science resources and community forums.
TechKnow community forums.
The SSERC offers a range of support and resources for school science technicians based in Scottish schools & colleges.
The Association for Science Education (the ASE) have created among other resources a career structure for science technicians in schools.
Nine years ago I became a science technician in a school. After 18 months I progressed to senior technician, line managing the rest of the team comprising of 3 other science technicians, a DT technician, art technician, and a faculty assistant.
Where I work technicians are well thought of. Along with whole-school CPD they're encouraged to take part in external CPD to allow them to progress in their role and also meet the needs of the department. I was encouraged apply for RSciTech accreditation and put through the STEM Learning Facilitator Development Programme. I also became involved in the Science Learning Partnership that operates within school: I'm now the SLP operational lead, a senior facilitator, a STEM Learning Community Champion, a STEM Club Champion and a STEM Ambassador. I run and develop CPD for technicians and science teachers, carry out consultancy work in schools to improve their science practical provision, and develop and lead workshops for primary and secondary school students.
One essential part of the technician role is good health and safety knowledge, not only to protect yourself but also other members of staff and students - there are hazardous chemicals which need handling, storing and disposing of safely, plus radioactive sources. Good organisational skills are also needed. We require good knowledge of every practical that is done in each of the 3 sciences. It isn't just a case of handing over the resources, we need to ensure that the practical will work. Occasionally we support in practical lessons, too.