A Laboratory Science Career is Waiting for You

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Have you memorized every atomic weight on the Periodic Table of Elements? Congratulations, you are a Nobel Prize contender!

Breathe easy, you don’t have to be a prize-winning chemist to succeed in the Laboratory Science Technician program at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC). Even if your knowledge of chemistry was only shaped Bill Nye the Science Guy, and supplemented by lab assignments in high school, this Calmar campus program covers the science basics, fills in the gaps and prepares you for a world where science-minded graduates are desperately needed.

“Many job listings for laboratory science technicians require a two-year degree and most are paying $30,000 a year – and that’s just to start – and there are lots of opportunities for advancement,” said Gordy Hunter, NICC chemistry instructor. “As a graduate with these skills, the job duties vary depending upon the industry. I say to my students, ‘Where do you want to work?’ That’s what you will
be doing.”

Laboratory Science Technician graduates have a full range of employment opportunities in Iowa – employers looking for these skilled employees cover the gamut in industries such as agriculture, biofuels, food testing, pharmaceuticals and highway construction. Any employer that has a laboratory needs technicians.

Hunter said that he teaches students to take three qualities with them in their job search or transfer to a four-year school: problem-solving ability, attention to detail and a working knowledge of basic laboratory equipment.

During the program, students learn chemistry and biology and gain practical, hands-on experience learning laboratory procedures and using laboratory instrumentation equipment. An internship offers real-world experience in a pharmaceutical lab, an ethanol plant or a food manufacturing company. Laboratory science technicians work to assist chemists in setting up and performing tests on products or in developing
new methods.

Charles Sullivan, a current student in the program, worked in die cast and molding and wanted a career change, even though he had limited academic experiences in chemistry in high school.

“The job market for science graduates is emerging, and this program offers me an opportunity to find a different career. I had no major chemistry classes in high school. I haven’t been in high school for 15 years!” he laughed.

Sullivan plans to transfer after graduation to earn a B.A. degree in biology or chemistry to increase his salary potential and career options.

Consider a great career in chemistry and get started at NICC!

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