Histotechnologist and Histologic Technician

Certified Histologic Technician, Charge Histotechnologist, Clinical Laboratory Manager   More Names
Histologic Aide, Histologic Technician, Histology Specialist, Histology Technician, Histology Technologist, Histotechnician, Histotechnologist, Histotechnologist Supervisor, Histotechnologists and Histologic Technicians, Pathology Supervisor

Prepare slides from samples of tissues and organs of the body for microscopic examination and diagnosis by pathologists who look for abnormalities or diseases, such as cancer. Cut and mount samples on glass slides.

Stain samples with dyes or other chemicals to make cell details visible under microscopes. Examine slides to ensure preparation meets laboratory requirements for analysis by pathologists. Also may assist other medical personnel and scientists in conducting research studies.

Histotechnologists (HTLs) and histologic technicians (HTs) are employed in hospital laboratories, physician and other private laboratories, clinics, universities, and in various medical and clinical public health facilities run by federal, state, or local government agencies. Some also work for research, pharmaceutical and forensic laboratories, and for scientific equipment firms to assist in the development of new instruments.

Histotechnology studies organs and tissues of the body including their preparation for viewing under a microscope. This technology integrates biology, chemistry, histochemistry and immunology in order to identify tissue and cell types as well as microorganisms and pigments. Practitioners of this medical and scientific discipline contribute to the investigation of human disease as well as the development of new drugs and treatment strategies.

Histotechnologists and histologic technicians are the practitioners of this discipline. The diagnosis and understanding of the disease processes, including cancer, would not be possible without the skills and contributions of these clinical laboratory specialists. Histotechnologists in particular must be experts in the handling and preparation of tissues as many of the samples they work with cannot be replaced.

Histotechnologists perform complex procedures to preserve and process tissues of the body. They must possess a sound foundation of the theoretical concepts that form the basis of the methods they employ. Their duties include identifying tissue structure and cell components, relating the test results to physiological functions, and implementing new testing techniques and procedures.

Histotechnologists typically perform testing procedures that may include dye staining of tissues, enzyme histochemistry, immune-histochemistry, hybridization, and electron microscopy. Their skills may be needed during a patient's surgery when a diagnosis is needed quickly. As a result, they must be extremely careful and accurate in their work and may choose to become highly specialized.

Histologic technician is the entry-level occupation in the clinical laboratory field of histotechnology while the occupation of histotechnologist is the next step on this career ladder and requires more education and training. Those having administrative interests also may go on to become supervisors or managers.

Credentials Needed: Licensing regulations vary from state-to-state and will update periodically. As a result, it is a good idea to check with your state before beginning your studies to see if they have current licensing requirements to work as a histotechnologist or histologic technician.

Some states currently require histotechnologists to be licensed to practice, but many do not have licensing or registration regulations. However, earning a voluntary nationally recognized, industry-based certification is highly recommended in whatever state a histotechnologist or histologic technician may choose to work because a large number of employers require such a credential.

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) sponsors the HT certification for histologic technicians and HTL credential for histotechnologists. The eligibility requirements for both of these certifications are available on the ASCP website.

Some Key Things to Remember: Histotechnologists and histologic technicians are practitioners of the medical and scientific discipline of histotechnology. They prepare slides from samples of tissues and organs of the body for microscopic examination and diagnosis by pathologists who are looking for abnormalities or diseases. Histologic technician is the entry-level occupation in this field, while histotechnologists perform more complex procedures.

Histotechnologists are required to have academic training at the Bachelor's degree level while histologic technicians typically hold an Associate's degree. Many states do not require licensure or registration to work in these occupations, but earning a voluntary industry-based certification is highly-recommended.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
14% - Average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $51,370 - $73,760    Hourly: $25 - $35
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Arm-Hand Steadiness, Near Vision, Finger Dexterity, Perceptual Speed.

Hand/eye coordination and physical dexterity needed to perform basic bioscience tasks such as the handling of chemical and biological agents; weighing and measuring, temperature monitoring.

Operate/maintain a variety of laboratory instrumentation that includes surgical instruments (scalpels, forceps, etc.), microtomes, microscopes, centrifuges, pH meter and various automated robotic equipment, to include tissue processors, stainers and cover-slipping machines.

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Legal Requirements
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Associate's Degree (High School + 2 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

14% - Average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $51,370 - $73,760

Hourly: $25 - $35