Cell Culture Technician

Cell culture technicians grow living cells in culture flasks, bioreactors, plates and other kinds of containers.  The types of cells they grow can come from plants, animals, fungi, or insects.

Fast Facts & Skills

Details

Education & Training: 

Some entry level positions require a certificate in cell culture however; the educational requirement is a 2- year Associates degree, or a 4-year degree in Microbiology or a related program.

Research Associates in Cell culture often need a Bachelors degree in a biological science or an Associates degree in Biotechnology.

Cell culture technicians grow living cells in culture flasks, bioreactors, plates and other kinds of containers.  The types of cells they grow can come from plants, animals, fungi, or insects.  Sometimes cell culture technicians start cultures directly from tissues such as umbilical cords or tumor biopsies.  Sometimes they grow and maintain cultured cells that are obtained from commercial suppliers and organizations such as the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC).

A specialized form of cell culture work involves maintaining cultures of embryonic stem cells.  These cells are challenging to grow in culture because they require specialized nutrients and chemicals.

Cell culture technicians are expected to be familiar with cell culture techniques, media preparation, cell isolation, and molecular biology methods.  For example, technicians that work with animal cells should be able to maintain mammalian and/or primary cell lines to be used in preclinical (in vivo and in vitro) experiments.  Often cell culture technicians are skilled in microscopy since they use microscopes to count cells and perform experiments.  Many use fluorescence microscopy to examine cells stained with antibodies to specific structures or substances that bind to DNA.

Familiarity with cGMPs and FDA guidelines for the pharmaceutical and biological industries is an advantage. Interpersonal skills are also critical since many times when multiple researchers need to work with the cells.  This type of work may be performed independently, or under close supervision.  Some technicians also supervise manufacturing assistants. Since manufacturing can take place round the clock (24/7), some cell culture technicians might work day or night shifts.

Where to Work and Learn

Example Employers: 

InnovATEBIO programs offer degrees, certificates, or teach skills in these related areas.

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