Hard skills development in Testing Water Quality field

Hard skills are defined as specific, measurable capabilities such as speaking foreign languages, earning a degree, using software programs or operating machines and measuring tools [1] Generally speaking, hard skills are those that can be mentioned in the section “Required criteria” in any job advertisement. In this entry, some of the hard skills relating to a role of Laboratory Technician in Quality Assurance in Water Testing are discussed and highlighted.

A laboratory technician is someone who perform routine analysis from samples in different sources and produce an accurate result in timely manner [2] This job requires a number of teachable skills and the ability to perform different tests on samples using tools, chemicals and machine for assistant. They can be test tubes, beakers, conical flasks, chromatography, centrifuge, etc. Specifically speaking, a laboratory technician in a field of water testing and quality control are required to collect water and wastewater samples from different sites, perform analysis of those samples and produce a set of results [3] These results can then be used for strategic plan of a certain company or an organisation to evaluate the treatment system. This can affect their future investment to improve the water quality and reserve environment.

According to a job advertisement from Government Job Website in Richmond, Virginia, a few of hard skills are stated for this role included: manipulate Excel spreadsheet, perform pH, chlorine, DO and temperature analysis on water samples, logging samples using data management system, close management of records, logs, safety, and other documentation that are set out by quality assurance programs [3] This set of skills are important to form a successful technician. Firstly, a technician needs to understand the source of samples and tests used to analyze them. This requires a strong knowledge of chemistry and their reactions. Also, it requires a person to be flexible in thinking because not all samples are the same and can be applied with identical tests. A technician need to have a sound knowledge of properties of each test and how one is differentiated to another. Also, a chemist needs to understand the applications of different equipment and apparatus. For example, the use of test tubes can be different from conical flasks so that a successful chemist need to understand and perform tests correctively.

Above hard skills also point out that a laboratory technician need to be a careful person. As can be clearly seen, beside performing correct tests on samples, input and managing data is crucial. A single error in data input and management can cause a massive problem in results and leading to serious consequences in actions taken. Therefore, it was mentioned that all management process need to be aligned with “quality assurance programs” to make sure data are corrective managed. A careful technician will have such common sense that enable them to pick up any irregular result or trends.

Another interesting hard skill that was mentioned regarding to be a water laboratory technician was to have a good eye condition for detailed and specific analysis [4] This criterion again emphasize the fact that an excellent chemist really need to focus on details and being able to point out physical difference between samples. As can be understood, samples under microscopic view can be focused to very small in size so it is very important to have good eye condition to make any analysis or conclusion in testing samples.

In conclusion, hard skill is undeniably important in applying for a certain job, specifically a laboratory technician where a strong background knowledge is really valuable. A successful technician will be able to understand the chemical principles and theories and being able to apply them correctly depending on different circumstances. Other than that, a chemist specifically in water testing area also need to be good in data management. It is correct to say that before even showing your soft skills to be promoted, you need hard skills to get the job first.



[1] Investopedia, 2017, “Hard Skills” <http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hard-skills.asp>

[2] SGS, May 2017, “Laboratory Assistants/ Technicians” <https://jobs.sgs.com/jobs/laboratory-assistants-technicians-17273?src=JB-10260>

[3] Richmond, Virgina, 2017 “Water Testing Laboratory Technician”


[4] Scientific Recruitment, “Water Quality Analyst” <http://www.evolvescientific.com.au/science-jobs/water-quality-analyst-contract-3-monthsplus/1203914?utm_source=Indeed&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=Indeed> 


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