What is a Histotechnologist?
A histotechnologist, also called a histologic technologist or a tissue technologist, is a specialized medical lab technician who studies tissues samples.
They prepare specimens of human, animal, or plant tissue for examination under the microscope. They work as members of a laboratory team and under the supervision of a pathologist, and work to diagnose disease and conduct research. They must work meticulously with automated equipment, knives, chemicals, glass slides, and fragile instruments. Histotechnologists perform more advanced duties than histotechnician, though both can perform these microscopic examinations. They can work in hospitals, clinics, government agencies, public health facilities, private industry research, or in forensic pathology. Most, however, work in hospitals or clinics. Their work is an important part of detecting, diagnosing, and treating disease, as well as a part of research.
Become a Histotechnologist
Histotechnologist Training and Education Requirements
You will need an associate’s degree in histotechnology or a related field in order to enter this profession or to work toward certification. In addition to coursework in histology, you will have to study biology, molecular biology, anatomy, chemistry, and immunology. Certification is voluntary, but will make you more competitive in the job market, and indicate that your skills and knowledge meet the national standards promoted by the National Society for Histotechnology. Maintenance of certification will keep your skills current through continuing education.
Histologic Technologist Certification
Certification as histotechnologist (HTL) is provided by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC). Certification exams are given year-round, have a $210 fee, and are computer-based tests. In order to be eligible to take the certification exam, you will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, and will have to complete a NAACLS (National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences) accredited histotechnician or histotechnology program at least five years prior to taking the exam. Alternatively, instead of completing the exam, if you have your bachelor’s degree and one year of work experience in histopathology at least ten before taking the exam, you may qualify for certification. Certification educational programs are generally a year long, consisting of academic instruction as well as clinical lab experience.
According to payscale.com, the average salary for a histotechnologist in 2011 ranges from $36,765 to $54,990. If you are interested in this side of healthcare, this job could be for you. Like most healthcare jobs, histotechnology is one that will always fill a need and is continually on the rise. Becoming a histotechnologist opens up a whole new world of science, and can literally save lives as you help to diagnose patients. Earn your bachelor’s degree and find the right histotechnology program so that you can get started in this lab technology specialty.