Pathologist Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Pathologist technicians perform laboratory tests on body tissues, cells and fluids to help pathologists arrive at diagnoses. Keep reading to learn about the education, skills, salary and employment outlook for this career and to see if it's the right one for you.

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Career Definition for a Pathologist Technician

Pathology technology concerns the tests, chemicals, procedures and laboratory machinery used to analyze biological samples. Most pathologist technicians work for hospital pathologists, testing laboratories or medical examiners, and a growing number are employed by police crime scene or forensic departments. Most will specialize in the technology used to analyze a particular discipline, such as blood, cells or the pathology of a specific organ.

Education Certificate or associate degree in medical technology or applied science
Job Skills Organized, dedicated, precise, accurate
Median Salary (2015)* $43,490 (for life, physical and social science technicians);
$42,190 (for health technologists and technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% (for life, physical and social science technicians);
16% (for health technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A certificate or associate degree in medical technology or applied science is generally required to be a pathologist technician, but some high school graduates can get a trainee job, supervised by a pathologist, and work while earning a two-year degree in science technology. In addition, there are a growing number of bachelor's degree programs in forensic science. Pathologist technicians must have an understanding of the scientific theories and procedures of analysis and know how to operate and maintain testing equipment.

Skills Needed

Pathologist technicians need to be organized and have mechanical aptitude. Much of the job involves performing the same procedures over and over again, requiring stamina and dedication. Pathology technology results are often needed in medical care or as evidence in court cases, so precision and accuracy are important.

Career and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for chemical technicians will grow by 2% from 2014 to 2024, while jobs for biological technicians are expected to grow by 5% during this period. Additionally, the agency predicts 27% job growth for forensic science technicians and 18% growth for medical and clinical laboratory technicians between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, the median annual wage was $44,660 for chemical technicians, $41,650 for biological technicians, $56,320 for forensic science technicians and $38,970 for medical and clinical laboratory technicians.

Alternate Career Options

Career options in similar fields include:

Agricultural and Food Science Technician

By earning an associate degree in animal science, biology or a similar field, these techs pursue jobs assisting agricultural and food scientists. They analyze and measure food and agricultural products' quality. The BLS predicts an employment growth of 5% during the 2014-2024 decade and reported an annual median salary of $36,480 in 2015.

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

With associate or bachelor's degrees in public health, environmental science or environmental health, these technicians complete field and lab testing to track changes in the environment and explore the causes of pollution, under the guidance of environmental specialists and scientists. The BLS predicts faster-than-average job growth of 9% from 2014 to 2024. In 2015, the BLS noted a median wage of $43,030 per year for this profession.

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