Laboratory Research Assistant Job Description, Key Duties and Responsibilities

By | December 3, 2023
Laboratory Research Assistant Job Description
Laboratory research assistants perform a wide range of duties to support scientists and researchers in fields ranging from medicine to chemistry to biology.

This post provides a comprehensive overview of the laboratory research assistant job description.

We explore key job duties, tasks, and responsibilities, required skills and qualifications, salary information, and steps you can take to pursue a career as a lab assistant.

Whether you’re interested in science and are considering this career path yourself, or you’re a researcher looking to create an accurate job description to hire for this vital role, you’ll find all the details you need here.

What Does a Laboratory Research Assistant Do?

A laboratory research assistant plays a critical support role for scientists and researchers across a wide range of disciplines by performing administrative and scientific tasks.

These professionals typically report directly to the lead researchers or principal investigators in the lab where they work, whether it’s in an academic research setting at a university or a private research and development laboratory.

Lab research assistant jobs can be found in several work environments, including universities, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical schools, government research facilities, and food science labs.

While most positions require at least a high school diploma and relevant on-the-job training, some research labs may prefer candidates who have an undergraduate degree in a scientific field. The lab may also provide or require specific certifications related to their specialty area.

The laboratory research assistant job description entails organizational and clerical duties to support research workflows.

It includes daily tasks like sterilizing equipment, labeling chemicals, compiling data records, coordinating sample collections, performing basic experiments like titrations or cell counts, and general lab upkeep like reorganizing storage areas.

Lab assistants must demonstrate attention to detail, organization, and time management in order to help streamline operations.

In addition to their daily support tasks, lab assistants take on more advanced responsibilities based on their competencies and research project needs.

Some additional duties can include mastering key equipment like mass spectrometers, bioreactors or DNA sequencers, and assisting in complex genomic or pharmaceutical experiments.

It also involves monitoring ongoing studies and live specimens, generating standard curves and reagents, and training junior lab members on protocols or safety standards.

The most skilled lab assistants have a chance to expand their contributions and learn highly marketable skills. 

The need for dedicated, value-adding lab support roles like research assisting spans geographic regions and scientific disciplines.

Their significance is universally recognized across research institutions in countries with advanced biomedical, genomic, food science, and biotechnology industries.

Standardization of research assistant roles helps enforce consistency and best practices across borders.

For example, the European Higher Education Area Framework defines expectations like nitty-gritty lab task competencies, record-keeping procedures and equipment usage for university lab assistants across over 40 countries seeking to harmonize standards.

When hiring lab assistants, employers often emphasize candidates who are extremely organized, pay sharp attention to detail, work well independently and display versatility to adapt to evolving research projects.

Strong communication skills, self-motivation and comfort learning specialized equipment or computations also appeal to principal investigators looking for assistants who make their lives easier.

Relevant undergraduate degrees or lab training certification programs give job seekers an advantage.  

In the United States, there are currently no formal national or statewide requirements for regulation, certification or licensure of lab assistants or lab technicians working under degreed professionals.

General workplace and environment laws still apply. However, several voluntary accrediting bodies like the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences can assess laboratory practices.

Individual employers may require compliance with their in-house safety, ethics and professionalism policies and training.

Laboratory Research Assistant Example/Sample/Template

The laboratory research assistant job description consists of the following duties, tasks, and responsibilities:

  • Sterilize lab equipment using autoclaves, chemical disinfectants, or other methods
  • Catalog lab supplies and track inventory levels to coordinate reorder timings
  • Carefully measure out reagents, chemicals, or samples for use in experiments
  • Use pipettes, burettes, or volumetric glassware to transfer precise liquid volumes
  • Properly label storage containers according to established protocols
  • Compile experimental data records in physical or electronic lab notebooks 
  • Enter numerical data into spreadsheets, databases or statistical programs
  • Clean and prepare materials for sample collection procedures
  • Assist with tissue, cell culture, or microbial sample collection and processing
  • Examine samples under microscopes to locate or characterize features of interest
  • Monitor conditions for live specimens involved in longitudinal studies 
  • Generate solutions, growth media plates, chemical buffers or other prep work
  • Perform basic bench experiments like ELISA, titrations or cell counting
  • Initiate or terminate cultures using bioreactors or similar equipment
  • Run assays, collect output data and dispose waste materials appropriately  
  • Identify and address basic troubleshooting issues with lab equipment
  • Participate in lab safety training activities to maintain up-to-date compliance
  • Set up standard curves and calculate equation variables when needed
  • Demonstrate techniques or procedures for new lab volunteers/trainees
  • Coordinate routine calibration and maintenance for lab instruments
  • Verify equipment logs, manuals, usage logs and maintenance records 
  • Check inventory supply levels and order new stocks before they run out
  • Keep up-to-date on lab protocols, equipment manuals or usage guidance
  • Report non-functioning equipment, safety issues or protocol deviations promptly
  • Adhere to all workplace safety, ethics and professionalism standards. 

Laboratory Research Assistant Job Description for Resume

If you have worked before as a laboratory research assistant or are presently working in that role and are making a new resume or CV, then you can create a compelling Professional Experience section for your resume by applying the laboratory research assistant job description sample provided above.

You can highlight the major duties and responsibilities you have carried out or are currently performing as a laboratory research assistant in your resume’s Professional Experience by utilizing the sample laboratory research assistant job description above.

This will show that you have been successful performing the laboratory research assistant duties and responsibilities, which can greatly enhance your chances of being hired, especially if the new job that you are seeking requires someone with some laboratory research assistant work experience.   

Laboratory Research Assistant Requirements: Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities for Career Success

To excel as a laboratory research assistant, individuals should possess certain essential attributes, which are usually required by recruiters/employers for hiring for the position. These include:

  1. Technical Skills and Knowledge
  • Proficiency in lab and chemical safety protocols
  • Capability using basic lab equipment
  • Understanding of data recording/management best practices 
  • Knowledge of quality control procedures
  • Familiarity with lab sample prep guidelines
  • Ability to follow complex technical protocols
  • Aptitude learning specialized research instruments.

2. Organization and Attention to Detail

  • Methodical approach to cataloging, labeling, and data entry
  • Careful sample and liquid measurement abilities 
  • Record-keeping habits to capture meticulous notes 
  • Upkeep of detailed usage logs and sample inventories
  • Tracking systems for monitoring procedures, calibration schedules, and replenishing supplies.

3. Communication Skills

  • Clear verbal and written skills for appropriate documentation
  • Ability to raise issues promptly and professionally
  • Patience to answer questions and mentor junior lab members.

4. Analytical Thinking

  • Competence identifying irregular results or procedural deviations
  • Skill applying theoretical knowledge to experiments 
  • Proficiency performing basic computations as needed
  • Ability to systematically troubleshoot issues.

5. Motivation and Adaptability

  • Enthusiasm assisting with a variety of lab tasks
  • Willingness to learn specialized research equipment
  • Flexibility to adjust to evolving research objectives
  • Capability managing multiple experiments in parallel.

By developing expertise across these fundamental ability areas, laboratory research assistants transform into indispensable partners enabling cutting-edge scientific innovations.

Laboratory Research Assistant Salary

The median annual salary for laboratory research assistants (LRAs) in the United States was $47,484 in May 2022 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The top 5 paying states for LRAs in 2022 were:

  • Massachusetts: $60,323
  • Alaska: $58,941
  • Connecticut: $49,998
  • New Jersey: $49,510
  • Illinois: $48,888.


For those interested in launching or advancing a career as a laboratory research assistant, this article covers the job description, all the key details about typical duties, required qualifications, salary outlook, and top employers.

Lab assistants serve the vital function of supporting scientists and researchers across every discipline by performing critical organizational, clerical, and technical tasks.

This allows lead investigators to focus their efforts on complex experimentation and pushing innovation forward.

While no specialized degree is required, coursework in the lab sciences and familiarity with equipment and computing provides a solid foundation.

Developing strong communications skills, stellar attention to detail, and comfort continually learning new protocols is also beneficial. Entry-level assistants can pick up abilities on-the-job before specializing.

Given the integral role lab assistants play in areas like pharmaceutical research and high-tech engineering, top paying locations mirror major biomedical and technology hubs. The highest salaries reach nearly $75K annually in federal and scientific R&D jobs.

By supporting cutting-edge innovation in companies small and large, government and academia alike, laboratory research assistants enjoy rewarding careers on the forefront of science and discovery.