Science Technician vacancies

Discussion in 'Science Technicians - General Discussion' started by Denise Anderson, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. Hi everyone, have been watching this site and CLEAPSS, I have been shocked at the number of science technician vacancies that are out there. I would be interested to know what the uptake is in terms of suitable applicants, eg relevant qualifications or science knowledge. We all know that school budgets are tight however the posts don't seem to be attracting many people. Is it because many are part time pro rata on a low wage to start or there aren't the folk out there that want to do the type of work. We had 2 applicants one not suitably qualified the other with a degree so have some hope, but will they stay for any length of time?. Let me know your experiences please.
    RichardYorke30 likes this.
  2. I'd say don't go by qualifications. We have had techs with MSc, PhD, BSc...all hopeless!! Our HoD was blinded by their qualifications.:mad: So we were 'lumbered' with highly qualified people who couldn't do the job.
    Our current ones all have degrees and are great however. I am Lead tech & don't have degree. Not biased but have had amazing techs in the past all without degrees. All our past Lead techs were 'unqualified' but very experienced in science industries.
    You just can't tell. Our very best Physics tech in the past, who had amazing knowledge and the teachers were gutted when he left, was ex BT engineer.
    We haven't had many applicants to our vacancies in the past few years. Think it's seen as a dogsbody job. People I know are often asking me when I'm going to get a 'proper' job!
  3. Well where to begin. One of the reasons that I left my previous post was their intention to downgrade my post to standard technician (with a £2.5k pay cut). It's taken them 3 school years to get someone vaguely competent, but due to the difficulties in finding a replacement in the first 2 years they only got a replacement who started after October half term each time AND they have had to increase my original salary by £3k. I kid you not. From my personal experience the better techs seem to have come from 'other jobs or professions' and not solely come through the educational stream (or should that be gene pool). I think a major turn off for applicants can be summed up in two words...PRO RATA. The salary looks attractive enough until those two words appear on the job spec. I'm hoping to retire at Christmas and I suspect my replacement will be either a failed PGCE teacher or one at the other end of the spectrum, a 50 something who's had enough of all the form and spreadsheet filling in. I'm currently on £9.81 per hour with a salary review pending(don't hold your breath, I'm not expecting to get a penny more as we have just created 2 'Director of Science' posts roughly costing a total of just under £100k, but according to senior management we are "valued members of the department'"and "unsung heroes" so that's alright then. I'll also second what Jaytee has posted. AAh I do feel better for that.
    stelden, Techno, KeithD and 5 others like this.
  4. I think it depends on where you are and in part how lucky you get.

    Our last vacancy had a surprisingly large number of applicants although I know the school down the road really struggled to fill the vacancy they had a year previously.

    I think the pro rata is a killer for applicants and is the reason many move on once they don't need the holidays off.
  5. Well said Rickster. I was surprised to hear that some Technicians were on that rate.:)
  6. When a cleaner gets paid almost the same as a technician per hour, it's hardly surprising.

    Don't worry though, there will soon be a shortage of cleaners too once senior management decide they need to have a degree in chemistry and their job title changed from "Cleaner" to "Head of Biohazard Disposal and Experimental Surface Sterilizer"...
    stelden, l johnson, Techno and 4 others like this.
  7. Hi Georgethesciencetech. When we say 'it's grim up north' that's what we mean, amongst other things. For info, our non-college exam invigilators are on roughly the same, but I could break the £10 barrier if I chose to be one of our floor-walking security staff. And remember the living wage is but a short distance below us.
  8. I have a science background and an HNC applied Biology gained whilst working as technician, done in my own time with no work reward with regards to pay at the end, however it was my choice and I really enjoyed it. I have worked at the same school for 21 years and am valued by the science dept greatly but salary wise stuck for years. I enjoy my job though and don't mind pro rata as it enabled look after my children. A good second salary is needed to support family life so does that stop people applying. I agree entirely that having a degree is not always the best way to go, our job is a lot of common sense , attention to detail but above all organisation and the ability to be flexible. I just hope science education doesn't suffer in the long term as the support structure is not there for the teachers to do the practicals.
    Jaytee and Emil Retaw like this.
  9. Yay finally advertised the Chem techs post - erm it's gone from a 37 hr week to 22.5 hrs plus 2 weeks to include evenings & weekends at £9295 not sure how many will apply - we'll see! Also noted calling the post a Science Tech, not Chemistry nor specifying this as their main role but hey ho - they can do the repro techs job for them too!

    BUT they'll need a pair of roller skates, the two full time techs [Phy chose to go PT this year 22.5 hrs] were supposed to help me [30 hrs 4 days a week] App Sci tech, as I also cover the previous Bio Techs role and they worked a 37 hr week.

    PS I'm an Ex BT Payphone Engineer :D
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
    Jaytee likes this.
  10. I was super lucky to get my job! They had 2 days to get someone in as the previous tech was retiring. They had me in on a whim as I had just come out of uni with a MSci in marine science (mainly lab based) and only 5 months experience in a science tech role with an agency, which I was made redundant in due to school cuts. They basically had no choice but to get me in, it was still agency work and they kept the job vacancy up in case anyone with more experience come (they didn't). After as few months here they realised even though I am "inexperienced and young, with a long future ahead of you" as they told me they offered me the job as they realised I actually knew somewhat what I was doing. I'm not going to lie I can't see myself in this role for many years to come, mainly due to the lack of pay. If I plan on having a family, a more fancy car, wanted to actually pay back my massive student loan or even lowering the years on my mortgage I would need a better paying job, even though I do love this job! It's all about the money these days unfortunately. :(:(
    Beaker likes this.
  11. Its weird around my area as many existing technicians are saying that they can't recruit and yet I've been looking to move schools for a few months and haven't found any opportunies. I guess that could be partly to do with me looking for a senior tech role of which there haven't been any advertised, and any tech roles I've seen near me require a degree, but I don't have one. I do have 7 years experience in my current role, but that doesn't count for much with some schools.
  12. All of the above.

    Rubbish pay being the major problem. And (before George sticks his oar in, I know) in the past we had an ex-teacher apply, a man (from IT background) who said his wife (chemistry teacher) said he should apply, ex-lab tech (who was employed and then turned out to be not great and left before failing probation), a maths graduate, whose mum (our ex-HR manager) made him apply, and some various types of graduates (not science) applied via agencies. In my experience, exactly as Denise has said, common sense, attention to detail and flexibility (plus sense of humour) is much more important.
    Techno and Jaytee like this.
  13. LOL...I won't say which bit made me laugh
    Beaker likes this.
  14. I've never had second salary...have always been breadwinner, lone parent, 2 children, a dog & cat & mortgage :D Surprising how you manage when you have to. It's what makes me laugh when 2 teachers are married, both on top salary & say they are hard up!
    I was on minimum wage wage when I first started here.
    I had to take job in school due to holidays.
    I think the 'Pro Rata' bit is true, wage looks ok-ish, until you see that!
    The cleaners here were shocked to find out that a (non senior), science tech, is on the same hourly rate as they are!
    And Beaker, way to go Ex-BT!! :p
    Beaker likes this.
  15. I'm not certain, but I think the pro-rata bit is something that the unions have been working on lately to try and get actual salaries stated on vacancies instead.
    Beaker likes this.
  16. When I started my last job, I always had it in my head that I would do 5 years and see what happens. When I started as a school tech I was in my early twenty's so could afford the years to 'build up experience'. The pay where I was wasn't brilliant but was better than nothing. As I was still living with parents and didn't have many outgoing payment.
    When I left many staff would come up to me and comment on how surprised they were how low my pay had been. they all thought I was on good pay based on the job I did and the responsibilities I had. None were surprised on my choice to leave and go with the job I have now.
    I'm now in a University being payed A much fairer wage but also have bills to pay. I had to move out to take the job. I can see that university techs are treated better and seen by staff and students how important they are. It is a shame that the same cant be said for school techs. Hopefully in time this will change?
  17. Hi we have appointed , nice guy came across as keen and wanted to do the job so lets see. I feel happier now than I did before.Thanks for all your replies it is good to know that some of you have similar stories in some respects but sad at the same time if you see what I mean!
    Beaker likes this.
  18. I have just posted a new science technician vacancy here and also on CLEAPSS and I too was stunned to see there are currently 28 technician vacancies on the CLEAPSS website. Many of those require technician experience so all that happens is techs with experience move from one school to another usually to gain more money and the schools that can't pay enough often end up having to take on staff with no experience or qualifications or manage without (which was what happened at my previous school - there had been no chemistry technician there for 6 months when I started).

    We have recently recruited a new technician to start in September this year. We had 20 applicants for the role, shortlisted 5 but 2 dropped out the day before interview. We had the job advert open for over a month which I think helped. This time round we only have two weeks to play with so it will be interesting to see how many applicants we get.

    Salary is definitely an issue - in the past technician jobs here have been turned down because the salary offered isn't high enough. The only reason I can afford to work here is because my salary is supplemented by the school fee discounts I receive and my husband earns a lot more than I do.
  19. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy COMMITTEE

    I totally agree. I have been a technician for over 40 years so I have become accustomed to the low pay. I have been very lucky that all of my posts have been full time. Equally lucky, that for 14 years I was a University tech on much higher salary. I left the university sector 8 years ago and the drop in salary was breathtaking (I still haven't caught up with it now). Support staff, in general, are used as a safety valve for school budgets and we lose staff and/or hours to save the school money. I retire in a few years and I do fear for the future of school technicians.
    Beaker and Julie Hammett like this.
  20. I found out the other day that the cleaners (who also don't work school holidays) are on the same as me - and I got a 20% pay rise at Christmas (because it told them I was now getting my state pension and didn't need to work anymore!). Looking back, I was below minimum wage for at least 3 years, but they got away with it because I got the school holidays. Independent schools for you, we've two heads, two deputies and several senior teachers in a school of 380 pupils.