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Histotechnologist Job Description and Average Salary

Histotechnologist Job Description and Average Salary

A histotechnologist helps prepare microscopic slides containing animal or human tissue to be observed and diagnosed for further research. CareerStint outlines the job description and average salary of a histotechnologist.
Buzzle Staff
Please Remember
A histotechnician (HT) and a histotechnologist (HTL) is not the same. The latter is a higher post than the former. An Associate's degree with a certification is sufficient for an HT, but to be an HTL, you need a Bachelor's degree.

A histotechnologist functions as an assistant to the pathologist. He/she will be working in the histology department, which is a part of the pathology process. He is responsible for preparing slides, examining them, and documenting data for further diagnosis.
He performs a variety of lab procedures and gathers relevant information. The job demands extreme attention to detail, and requires high level of responsibility. Some of the job duties and salary details of a histotechnologist are enumerated in the paragraphs below.
Job Description

  • The job responsibilities of a histotechnologist are plentiful; while it is easy to summarize the same as preparing slides for observation, the actual task encompasses a whole lot of other duties.
  • He has to perform histochemical techniques on a variety of tissues, this involves different procedures, like frozen section technique, processing, etc., as well as conduct tests on a variety of cell samples.
  • A tissue sample is not directly examined under the microscope, it goes through a few procedures prior to testing and observation.
  • It is trimmed, fixated, sliced, and stained to make the observation of the cells easier. The procedure is elaborated below.
  • Apart from this process, a histotechnologist is responsible for pre-screening different samples, collecting different specimens from hospital labs, and performing routine tests.
  • He is responsible for the proper tissue treatment, making sure it meets the necessary requirements before it reaches the pathologist.
  • In fact, he can also study slides and make appropriate observations for further research.
  • He is responsible for creating all the different stains and dyes and antibodies required for the tissue sampling process.
  • He operates all the computerized equipment and records accurate data entries.
  • He is also responsible for keeping the laboratory as clean and hygienic as possible, assisting junior staff, directing them accordingly, implementing and teaching them the various laboratory procedures, etc.
  • Other duties include keeping track of whether the right tissue sample is assigned to the right pathologist, sterilizing equipment, etc.

Tissue Sampling Process

Trimming
  • The tissue sample is trimmed and grossed to a specific size.
  • Technically, this process is called 'grossing the specimen'.
  • After this, the resultant specimens go through a preservation process, called 'fixation'.
  • This is done by placing them in certain solutions.
Processing
  • Paraffin wax is heated and melted and placed on the tissue specimen, after clearing it off water.
  • This wax spreads throughout the tissue and supports it during the process of slicing.
  • This refers to the process of slicing the tissue into wafer-thin slices.
Supporting
  • Before going in for the slicing process, the specimen is placed in a large wax block for support.
Sectioning
  • The tissue is mounted on to the microtome.
  • A sharp knife is used to slice sections of the tissue that is embedded in the wax block.
  • The slices are allowed to float in warm water to soften them.
  • These specimens are stored for further analysis.
Staining
  • This process involves testing the tissue specimens with different chemicals.
  • The components of the tissue are brought in contact with chemicals and allowed to change colors.
  • Different antibodies are used in a technique called immunohistochemistry in order to determine the accurate treatment for tumors.
  • Bacteria and virus are identified by means of applying DNA probes.
  • After this process, the final resultant sample is provided to the pathologist.

Requirements

  • Extreme attention to detail
  • Computer skills
  • Research skills
  • Programming knowledge
  • Record-keeping

Education

  • A relevant degree with subjects, like biology, physics, maths, computers, etc., is expected
  • Two year associate degrees can be obtained, after which a certification can be obtained to be a histotechnician.
  • After some experience, a bachelor-level program can be undertaken in a relevant field to become a histotechnologist.

Salary

Alabama USD 51,000
Alaska USD 37,000
Arizona USD 41,000
Arkansas USD 51,000
California USD 54,000
Colorado USD 45,000
Connecticut USD 58,000
Delaware USD 44,000
Florida USD 47,000
Georgia USD 58,000
Hawaii USD 31,000
Idaho USD 33,000
Illinois USD 57,000
Indiana USD 48,000
Iowa USD 49,000
Kansas USD 46,000
Kentucky USD 44,000
Louisiana USD 45,000
Maine USD 45,000
Maryland USD 52,000
Massachusetts USD 61,000
Michigan USD 51,000
Minnesota USD 44,000
Mississippi USD 53,000
Missouri USD 50,000
Montana USD 42,000
Nebraska USD 37,000
Nevada USD 38,000
New Hampshire USD 50,000
New Jersey USD 55,000
New Mexico USD 44,000
New York USD 61,000
North Carolina USD 48,000
North Dakota USD 45,000
Ohio USD 48,000
Oklahoma USD 47,000
Oregon USD 49,000
Pennsylvania USD 49,000
Rhode Island USD 46,000
South Carolina USD 50,000
South Dakota USD 38,000
Tennessee USD 47,000
Texas USD 49,000
Utah USD 39,000
Vermont USD 45,000
Virginia USD 51,000
Washington USD 52,000
West Virginia USD 48,000
Wisconsin USD 45,000
Wyoming USD 42,000
Source: Indeed.com as of December 10, 2014. Figures are in US Dollars.

Work Environment

  • Most histotechnologists spend an average 8 - 9 hours in the lab, i.e., they have regular shifts and timings.
  • Sometimes, however, they might be required to work extra hours.
  • Ultimately, they have to spend a lot of time in the laboratory, scanning tissue samples under the microscope.
  • They have to endure different odors―dyes, stains, solutions, antibodies, etc.
  • They need to be extremely alert and cautious, they must be able to concentrate on very minute specimens.
  • If the person likes what he is doing, he will love the laboratory atmosphere; if not, he may find it hectic and stressful.

The job of a histotechnologist is very important. Bear in mind that a small error can lead to major alteration in the expected result and may affect further diagnosis. What if the tests being carried out are very vital, like those related to anticancer drugs and the like? You need to be extremely focused on the details in order to document accurate results.