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Job Description and Average Salary of a Cytotechnologist

Job Description and Average Salary of a Cytotechnologist

Cytotechnologists are laboratory technicians who observe cellular structures in human tissue to detect the presence of abnormalities. The CareerStint write-up below will educate you regarding the job description and average salary of a cytotechnologist.
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"Running Pap tests and HPV tests concurrently allows us to keep both tests together throughout the entire process, from the time we receive the specimens to the time they're signed out, whether it be by a pathologist or cytotechnologist. Keeping both tests together gives us a good picture of the results, and we feel that's better for the patient."
― Jessica Sedivy Gunderson, Cytologist, St. Joseph's Hospital

There a innumerable designations in the scientific community, and those working in laboratories are known as scientists, histotechnicians, oncologists, cytotechnologists, etc. As laymen, we would believe that they are all essentially the same. What does a cytotechnologist do, then? Well, the fact is, that each and every one in this industry have different job duties, different functions. Yes, they all share a common knowledge of the same subjects, like anatomy, biology, etc., but basically, every one has different duties to carry out.
By definition, a cytotechnologist examines tissue specimens and tries to find any evidence of a disease. The job description is further elaborated in detail below.
Job Profile

  • The basic job of a cytotechnologist is to examine cell structures.
  • He uses tissue as well as cell samples and examines them under the microscope.
  • He checks the shape, size, and color of the cell, carefully studying the structure to detect any abnormalities.
  • These abnormalities indicate the presence of cancerous growth, or bacterial or viral infection.
  • The detection process may include using a number of chemicals and other preparations so that the nucleus of the cell can be carefully analyzed.
  • The cytotechnologist is expected to have fair knowledge of subjects, like immunology, chemistry, cellular anatomy, molecular diagnosis, etc.
  • If no abnormalities are detected, he/she will report his/her own observations.
  • If any foreign presence is detected, he will report the same to the pathologist, and they will both work together to diagnose the condition.
  • He is also responsible for analyzing Pap tests (the ones that detect cervical cancer).
  • Cytotechnologists collect, study, and analyze many other types of tissue samples.
  • At a slightly advanced level, they are also responsible for managing laboratory operations and supervising research activities.
  • The cell samples go through a process of scraping or aspiration.
  • They are carefully observed to detect precancerous, malignant, and other infectious conditions.
  • They perform RNA or DNA testing as well (molecular cytotechnologists).
  • They prepare and evaluate different specimens to study their quality.
  • They perform fine needle aspirations to detect hormonal abnormalities.
  • They assist pathologists in the preparation of reports.
  • They interpret cell structures from practically any part of the body, like the breast, salivary glands, liver, lymph nodes, etc.


  • To begin with, you need to obtain a relevant bachelor's degree program.
  • After that, you need to complete an accredited training program in cytotechnology.
  • Many aspirants go in for a master's degree after a few years of experience as a cytologist.


The salary of a cytotechnologist, even for an entry-level candidate, is fair enough. With experience, they can earn very high salaries. Of course, the figure depends heavily upon your education, experience, the state where you work, etc.
Alabama USD 61,000
Alaska USD 44,000
Arizona USD 49,000
Arkansas USD 61,000
California USD 64,000
Colorado USD 53,000
Connecticut USD 69,000
Delaware USD 52,000
Florida USD 56,000
Georgia USD 68,000
Hawaii USD 37,000
Idaho USD 39,000
Illinois USD 68,000
Indiana USD 57,000
Iowa USD 59,000
Kansas USD 55,000
Kentucky USD 52,000
Louisiana USD 53,000
Maine USD 53,000
Maryland USD 61,000
Massachusetts USD 72,000
Michigan USD 60,000
Minnesota USD 52,000
Mississippi USD 63,000
Missouri USD 59,000
Montana USD 50,000
Nebraska USD 44,000
Nevada USD 45,000
New Hampshire USD 59,000
New Jersey USD 65,000
New Mexico USD 52,000
New York USD 72,000
North Carolina USD 57,000
North Dakota USD 53,000
Ohio USD 57,000
Oklahoma USD 55,000
Oregon USD 58,000
Pennsylvania USD 58,000
Rhode Island USD 54,000
South Carolina USD 59,000
South Dakota USD 45,000
Tennessee USD 56,000
Texas USD 58,000
Utah USD 46,000
Vermont USD 53,000
Virginia USD 60,000
Washington USD 62,000
West Virginia USD 56,000
Wisconsin USD 53,000
Wyoming USD 49,000
Source: as of December 10, 2014. Figures are in US Dollars.
Work Environment

  • As a cytotechnologist, you will spending all your time in the laboratory.
  • Most pathology labs will have regular work hours, but at times, you may need to work for longer hours, or stay back for night shifts.
  • You will be working continuously with lab equipment, tissue samples, stains, dyes, chemical solutions, etc.
  • This job requires extreme caution and an alert mind.
  • If you can handle the work pressure and the responsibilities, and you have an affinity towards health care, this is the right field for you.

The job of a cytotechnologist is crucial. After all, he is responsible for detecting cellular abnormalities; thus, he helps determine the patient's health condition, whether or not his tumors are malignant, the kind of bacterial infection, etc. One needs to have plenty of dedication and empathy to become a good cytotechnologist.