Everyone actively involved in science education recognises the central role played by school and college science technicians in the provision of high-quality education. Yet surprisingly little work has been undertaken to establish any kind of profile of the technician workforce. In 2000, the ASE and Royal Society sent a questionnaire to technicians at over 4800 UK schools and colleges. The aim of the questionnaire was to explore the variety of duties carried out by technicians and investigate their conditions of service and salary scales. Completed questionnaires were received from over 1900 schools and colleges and from more than 5000 individual technicians - a huge response for a survey of this kind. The survey thus yielded a unique database of information concerning the provision, roles, responsibilities, working conditions and opinions of laboratory technicians in secondary schools and colleges.