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What You Need to Know to Become a Histotechnologist

What You Need to Know to Become a Histotechnologist

The job of a histotechnologist is to assist in scientific research and analysis, by preparing and examining slides containing human and animal tissue. The CareerStint write-up will tell you what you need to know in order to become a histotechnologist.
CareerStint Staff
Please Remember
Preferably, complete your accredited histology program and then go in for work; most employers prefer that students complete this program, since it is expensive and time-consuming to provide on-the-job training.

The field of research is an extensive one, with the entire scientific as well as medical community trudging through day and night to bring about a change in people's lives, working to examine cell structures, tissue samples, and the like.
Being an experienced histotechnologist is almost akin to being a good diagnostician, since you will be helping pathologists and physicians diagnose the condition of the patient. If you are interested in health care, this job will offer you a wonderful opportunity. You will learn more on how to become a histotechnologist through the paragraphs below.
Job Profile

  • Histotechnologists are responsible for collecting tissue samples and preparing them for examination.
  • The samples go through a rigorous process of trimming, fixation, processing, slicing, and staining.
  • The samples are trimmed to the required size, processed, sliced thinly, stained, and then stored for examination.
  • Histotechnologists use histochemical techniques to diagnose problems in the tissues.
  • They work on many tissue samples and observe them under a microscope to arrive at a conclusion.
  • They document and store important information and train and guide the junior staff as well.

General Requirements

  • Ability to operate the required computerized equipment
  • Ability to carry out detailed research
  • Extreme attention to detail
  • Presence of mind
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to use all the lab equipment
  • Programming knowledge
  • Ability to work under stress
  • Patience
  • Problem-solving skills

Education

  • The educational requirements for this field demand a strong background of subjects, like biology, chemistry, anatomy, etc.
  • You should have passed with good grades in the above disciplines in your high school.
  • Before becoming a histotechnologist, you are required to possess some experience as a histotechnician. Therefore, opt for a 2-year associate's program in histology, or undertake training programs from accredited institutes.
  • If you take the associate degree program, you can undertake a certification to be a histotechnician.
  • The histotechnician training program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) or the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC).
  • You will need to update yourself with technical as well as computer skills, like operating lab equipment, tissue choppers, knives, understanding medical software, etc.
  • After gaining a few years experience as a histotechnician, you need a bachelor degree in the relevant field, after which you will be qualified to work as a histotechnologist. You will again require a certification from the NAACLS.
  • You will learn about physiology, immunology, medical ethics, molecular biology, electron microscopy, and enzyme histochemistry in your training program.
  • As of 2014, not all states require a license for a histotechnologist.
  • You will be working in hospitals, clinics, pathology labs, research labs, physician's offices, and even pharmaceutical companies.
  • If you do not wish to pursue a career as a histotechnician, you may directly go in for a 3-year bachelor program, after which you can undertake a clinical internship and start working in laboratories.
  • You can undertake on-the-job training while studying or gain 20 hours of credit in related subjects as well, to qualify for the certification.
  • Remember that in order to be eligible for the certification, you need to have completed the accredited training program.

Salary

  • The average annual salary range of a histotechnologist is predicted to be between USD 35,000 to USD 50,000.
  • This is a rough estimate, of course, since salaries tend to vary widely with education, experience, and designation.
  • The salary is found to be higher in states, like New York, Georgia, etc., and lower in states, like Alaska, Nevada, etc.

Job Outlook

  • A career as a histotechnologist may open further opportunities for you.
  • Ideally, they begin as histotechnicians, and after obtaining a degree, they progress to being histotechnologists.
  • The BLS predicts a steady job growth rate in this field between 2012 to 2022.
  • Working in the laboratory for more than 45 hours every week may sound tiring, but believe me, you will be doing a very noble and a highly responsible job, so if you love it, just go for it.

Do not confuse a histotechnologist with a pathologist; the former assists the latter. In cases of finding out causes of tumors, or researching a new drug, or anything similar, histotechnologists play a vital role. Their job is to make the tissue examination process as smooth as possible so that the specimens can be examined properly and accurate conclusions can be drawn.