Associate's degree programs in histology or histotechnology are rarely available online due to the laboratory work required. Online certificate programs in histology are more common. Associate's degree programs in this field that can completed partially online typically have some on-campus requirements. Medical and clinical laboratory technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree; technologists must have a bachelor's degree. Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed; check for state-specific requirements when choosing a program.
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Associate's Degree in Histology
Histologists and histotechnicians study the microscopic features of human and animal tissues. Sometimes considered a branch of pathology, histology requires laboratory staff members to prepare tissue samples for examination by a pathologist. Online degree programs in histotechnology are rare. Online certificate programs are more common. However, Associate of Science in Histotechnology programs are available online.
Program Information and Requirements
This program consists of one year of education for a certificate in histotechnology plus additional requirements to earn the associate's degree. While histotechnology courses are offered via distance education, general education requirements must be completed on campus or at another qualified school. Alternatively, if students are already certified by the Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), only the general education requirements must be completed. Students gain clinical experience through qualified laboratories in their area. Applicants must have a high school diploma or an equivalent diploma.
An online student should have a personal computer equipped with a web camera, speakers or headphones and a microphone for teleconferencing. Recent versions of web browsers and operating systems are recommended. Microsoft Office is necessary for some assignments and class materials. Students may need to download some media players and plug-ins.
List of Common Courses
Prerequisite high school courses include biology, chemistry and math. General education requirements for the associate's degree include psychology, sociology, writing and communication. Many classes focus on laboratory techniques and these subjects:
Students enrolled in this course become familiarized with the words used in medical practice. This course covers the meanings as well as the origins and derivations of the terms.
This class provides knowledge of the morphology of the human body. The class progresses through structures and body systems, beginning with cells, then showing the components of tissues and how those make up organ systems which comprise the body.
Students learn laboratory safety, instrumentation and preservative fixation. Laboratory education includes methods for staining, tissue processing, decalcification and specimen treatment.
Career Information for Graduates
The American Society for Clinical Pathology provides the exam that qualifies graduates for certification as a histotechnician or histotechnologist (HTL). Histotechnicians and histotechnologists are types of medical and clinical laboratory technicians and technologists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), medical and clinical laboratory technicians had a median annual wage of $38,970 as of May 2015. Medical and clinical laboratory technologists had a median annual wage of $60,520 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Students who wish to pursue a bachelor's degree may find on-campus programs in related fields such as human biology, clinical biology and clinical laboratory science. Some of these programs offer courses online, but laboratory classes usually require hands-on experience on campus. An associate's degree is one of the requirements to be a histology technician, and a baccalaureate degree with at least 30 combined hours of biology and chemistry is one of the requirements for becoming a histology technologist.
Although online associate's degree programs are rare, and not as common as online certificate programs in histology, the associate's degree program provides additional training and progresses students closer to earning a bachelor's degree. This higher degree is needed for clinical laboratory technicians to become technologist.