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Histology Technician Certification and Certificate Program Info

Diagnostic laboratories and healthcare facilities hire histology technicians, also known as histotechnicians, to prepare tissue samples for diagnostic examination. A histology technician certificate program should prepare students for entry-level positions in the field and for certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. Read on to learn about education prerequisites, required courses and certification options for histotechnicians.

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Essential Information

Community colleges offer histology certificate programs under titles like histotechnology certificate, histology certificate and histology technician certificate. Each of these certificate programs is designed to provide students with a solid background in the field of histology, which is the study of how human cells combine to make up tissue and organs. Many students can complete the certificate program in a year. Graduates can qualify to apply for professional certification, which is not mandatory, but could help with career advancement.

Histology certificate programs combine classroom learning with clinical instruction. Students receive technical instruction in preparing tissue samples for examination by learning how to freeze, cut and stain them for visual clarity. Some schools offer online coursework, but students must visit campus a couple of times a week for labs. Many programs also require clinical rotations in hospitals.

Education Prerequisites

Before students begin the core courses included within a histology technician certificate program, they are often required to complete basic courses in medical terminology, anatomy, biochemistry and English communication. A high school diploma or GED are also fairly standard prerequisites for such certificate programs.

Program Coursework

While working through the courses in a histology technician certificate program, students will gain a conceptual understanding of histology as well as a practical understanding of histologic techniques. Courses may include:

  • Histologic procedures
  • Tissue fixation and processing
  • Histology clinical practicum
  • Chemistry of staining
  • Tissue identification

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which includes histotechnicians within the category of medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, reported that in May 2012, histotechnicians earned an average salary of $39,340. During the same month, histotechnicians working in hospitals earned an average of $40,050, while those employed in private physician offices made $39,600 and those in outpatient clinics received $39,610. The BLS also reported that medical and clinical laboratory technicians in general held 161,200 jobs nationwide in 2010.

Certification and Continuing Education

The American Society for Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) offers histotechnician certification. In order to gain certification, individuals must have either completed a histology program in the past five years, or else completed an associate's degree program as well as one full year of experience in the histology field. Histotechnicians with a certificate in the field can advance to the position of histotechnologist by completing an associate's degree program in histology.

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