Cytotechnologist Career Plan

Cytotechnologists are specialized clinical laboratory scientists who examine cells for abnormalities. Some people enter the field as medical laboratory technicians and obtain additional training to practice cytotechnology. Others enter the field directly. If you’re in high school, you can expect four years of postsecondary education. If you’ve got a degree under your belt, you may only be a year away. The following steps may help you.

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  1. Get a strong academic foundation in high school. Take plenty of college prep math, biology, and chemistry. Develop your expertise in lab report writing – aim for scientific accuracy and clear communication. Also make sure you’re adept at computer applications.

  2. Meanwhile look for opportunities to do career exploration and garner professional experience. Your guidance counselor can be a good resource; you may also want to contact organizations like Learning for Life. Biomedical internships are available to exceptional high school students. If you get one, it can do more than help you get into the program of your choice. It may also help you earn some scholarship money.

  3. Select an undergraduate school and major. You have two options. You can enroll in cytotechnolgy at the baccalaureate level. There are more than a dozen programs in the nation that award a BS in cytotechnology or a BS in clinical laboratory sciences with a cytotechnology concentration. You will find some unique options, like molecular cytotechnology.

    You can also choose to do your undergraduate education in the natural sciences, then complete a cytotechnology certificate program later. The advantages would be flexibility and the option of attending a local school. Look for cytotechnology programs accredited by CAAHEP. Find undergraduate programs that have a solid core emphasis in natural science.

  4. Even at the undergraduate level, you will probably need to complete some prerequisites before admission to the professional phase of the program. This may include approximately 20 units of biology.

  5. Make the most of your university years. College provides even more opportunities for internships. You can also become a student member of the American Society of Cytopathology for free.

  6. Fulfill licensing requirements if your state mandates them. Otherwise look into becoming certified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

  7. You may have a choice of work settings. Look to your professional organization and to online forums and job boards.

Personality Traits: Cytotechnologists are thorough and accurate. They have scientific aptitude and are able to work independently.