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What does a Lab Tech do?

A laboratory technician, also called a lab tech, performs a variety of tests on bodily fluids and cells to detect diseases, bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms. A lab tech often collects and prepares specimens that other, more skilled medical workers use to determine blood types, test blood to gauge the effectiveness of prescribed drugs, or analyze the chemical makeup of fluids.

lab tech

Tools of the trade and crucial skills

Lab techs often work under the supervision of more experienced laboratory technologists, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. While lab technologists might perform much of the critical analytical work, they are dependent upon lab techs to help prepare specimens and operate a wide range of scientific equipment. Examples include drawing blood samples and cutting and staining tissue specimens for the technologist to examine under a microscope. The tests performed by lab techs often are less complex and not likely to produce errors, the Web site Medical Jobs states.

Instrumentation used by lab techs and technologists includes cell counters, microscopes, and computerized and highly specialized equipment capable of performing a wide range of testing procedures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that much of the work done by lab techs has become more automated, and as a result, these professionals must be highly analytical and able to use good judgement.

Education and training

Lab techs typically need to complete an associate degree or certificate program, while technologists usually need at least a bachelor’s degree for employment, the BLS states. Length of coursework varies by program, but a typical community college lab tech program that culminates in an associate degree requires roughly 105 semester hours. The majority of classes in medical technology programs focus on clinical work and experience, with a handful of general education courses mixed in as well.

Core classes for medical technician training programs could include many of the following:

  • Medical terminology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Clinical microbiology

With additional schooling, many lab techs advance to better-paying jobs or positions with more responsibility, such as laboratory technologist, histotechnician or cytotechnologist.

Job prospects and earnings potential

The BLS predicts growth of 16 percent for medical lab techs. Hospitals are the main employer of lab techs, but many work in physicians offices and diagnostic laboratories as well.

What does a Nuclear Engineer do?

Are you fascinated by the amount of energy you can derive from the tiny atom? Do you like thinking outside the box, but also analytically, to solve complex problems? Do you think nuclear energy is our best option for clean power? If so, you should consider a career as a nuclear engineer.

Job description: the basics

Nuclear engineers work with nuclear power, developing methods for its use to help humankind and the planet. Although you may think this job is confined to working in a nuclear power plant, doing something like fixing a reactor, nuclear engineering can be applied to many different projects. You could work on a new way to treat diseases using radiation, or develop a method of reducing the pollution that fossil fuels release into the environment. You could even work on exploring the vast reaches of space with the help of nuclear energy.

nuclear engineer

As a nuclear engineer, you’ll have an exciting, though demanding, career ahead of you. There are many different types of challenges you may encounter, whether you’re working in a lab or a power plant, on a particle accelerator or an artificial heart. Your work week is likely to be a standard 40-hour week, and most of your time will be spent in an office, lab, or power plant. The creativity and analytical skills you’ll often have to use are matched in importance by the need to communicate effectively and have an interest in technology.

Becoming a nuclear engineer: education and training

If you want to be a nuclear engineer, you can expect to spend between 4 and 5 years getting your bachelor’s degree, the bare minimum education required for this position. You’ll study a wide range of general subjects at first, including mathematics, the sciences, and the humanities, before honing in on your specialty.

After you graduate, you may want to continue your studies and get a master’s or a doctorate, either immediately if you intend to teach or do research, or later on as part of your career advancement. Depending upon where you choose to work, you may need to get security clearance or be a United States citizen (this is the case if you work for the federal government).

Salary and career outlook

You can expect a good salary and job outlook in general, per the U.S. Department of Labor, due to the increasing interest in nuclear energy and in safety standards for power plants, as well as in uses for nuclear energy in medical and defense applications.

As your career progresses, you can become a specialist in your area of nuclear engineering, manage a staff of people, or choose to teach at a college or university.

What does a Petroleum Engineer do?

According to the online news source, Newser, “To Rake in the Dough, Major in Petroleum Engineering” – basically, become a petroleum engineer. ┬áThe article points out that petroleum engineers can expect to make $4.8 million over the course of a 40-year career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) concurs that the career can offer high salaries.

If you are interested in digging up gas and oil for a living, there is more great news: the BLS projects 18 percent job growth for petroleum engineers. Job growth, in fact, is expected to be greater than the number of petroleum engineering graduates.

Excellent pay and excellent job prospects can make for an excellent career, right? But what, exactly, does a petroleum engineer do?

The work of petroleum engineers

Petroleum engineers search high and low (okay, mostly low) for oil- or gas-filled reservoirs. Once the jackpot location is found, the job of the petroleum engineer is varied and might include any of the following tasks:

  • Coordinating with geologists to determine the rocks’ geological formation and properties
  • Determining drilling method, and then monitoring drilling and production
  • Designing equipment and processes (this is done before drilling, too)
  • Using computer models to simulate reservoir performance

petroleum engineer

Petroleum engineers are continually perfecting their oil- and gas-recovery techniques. This means that not all work is done on the field. Some petroleum engineers spend some or even most of their time in offices, researching and developing new technologies. Some current recovery techniques include injecting oil reservoirs with water, chemicals, gases or steam, to force out more of the oil, and operating computer-controlled drilling.

Travels of petroleum engineers

Many petroleum engineers travel extensively for their jobs. Oil companies often have offices and sites in multiple countries and transfers are common. Some petroleum engineers spend most of their time in the field; others work in offices. For instance, consultants usually spend most of their time in offices. To consult successfully, though, it is usually required to spend some years in the field, first. Higher degrees, such as masters’ and PhDs, are common among consultants. Teaching college courses is also a possible career choice for those who pursue graduate degrees.

Petroleum engineering degrees

You will need a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering to be considered for entry-level jobs in the field. These degree programs waste no time to get you prepared for your career, and for good reason: you have a lot to learn in four years. Your program should include the following material:

  • Engineering-focused mathematics, chemistry and geology
  • Materials’ mechanics
  • Reservoir fluids
  • Thermodynamics
  • Petroleum production systems

In addition to highly-focused coursework, your program might include one or more internship experiences, which will provide you first-hand experience in the field.