Cytogenetics Certification and Certificate Program Overviews

Clinical laboratory technicians who specialize in cytogenetics analyze human cells, and chromosomes in particular, searching for defects that could indicate congenital disorders.

Essential Information

The majority of the curriculum in a cytogenetic technology certificate program includes didactic classroom lectures and clinical laboratory experience. Graduates can opt to take the examination for professional certification, which may make them more attractive to employers.

  • Prerequisites: Open to senior-level undergraduate students or students who have earned a bachelor's degree that covers biology, molecular genetics, chemistry, algebra and clinical laboratory science.
  • Program Length: 9 months
  • Other Requirements: Students are required to pass a drug test, a background test and provide a record of immunizations
  • Experiential Learning: Curriculum includes a clinical portion in which students spend supervised hours learn to perform chromosome analysis, molecular cytogenetics techniques and specimen harvesting.

Cytogenetic Technology Certificate Programs

Students explore basic principles of cytogenetics, types of congenital disorders that cytogenetics can detect and legal issues related to cytogenetics. They also learn to perform the day-to-day tasks of a laboratory technologist specializing in cytogenetics, such as preparing slides for analysis and testing, culturing cells and analyzing cells to detect abnormalities. Classroom lectures typically cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to cytogenetics
  • Congenital disorders
  • Hematology
  • Prenatal cytogenetics
  • Analytical cytogenetics
  • Fluorescent in situ DNA probes

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect data specifically regarding cytogenetic technologists, also known as cytotechnologists. It did report, however, that clinical laboratory technologists in general held more than 161,710 positions in 2014 (www.bls.gov). Jobs for medical and clinical lab technologists were projected to increase 22% between 2012 and 2022. In 2015, medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned an annual median salary of $59,430, or $28.57 per hour, according to the BLS.

According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), clinical laboratory technologists earned an average of $31.45 per hour in 2013 (www.ascp.org). Those who served as lead employees earned $35.20 per hour, and those in supervisory positions earned approximately $37.09 per hour.

Certification and Continuing Education

The National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCALP) offers a certification examination for cytogenetic technologists. Individuals who have completed a certificate program in the field should have the educational requirements necessary to sit for the test. The ASCP also offers a certification examination in the field.

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