Pathology technicians, also referred to as histotechnicians or histological technicians, assist pathologists in the diagnosis of disease by preparing tissue samples for review. Completion of an accredited educational program with clinical training is required to work in the field. One degree option is an Associate of Science in Histotechnology. Students will learn how to process sections of body tissue obtained during surgical procedures or postmortem examinations through two years or less of coursework that covers the applied sciences, like microbiology. Direct experience is gained through internships and clinical training with pathology professionals and in laboratories. The completion of a practicum is required for graduation.
The admissions process is very competitive and limited. Applicants with a stellar academic history and a solid background in science and mathematics will have an advantage. Additionally, a criminal background check must be passed.
Associate of Science in Histotechnology
Histotechnology training curriculum includes general education courses, lectures, clinicals and laboratory practicums. Students are taught how use various tools and chemicals to appropriately slice tissue samples, mount them on slides and dye them so they can be reviewed by a pathologist. Some core class topics include:
- Medical terminology
- Medical ethics
- Anatomy and physiology
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Histotechnicians work in a variety of settings, including private research laboratories, medical examiners' offices, government healthcare organizations and medical teaching institutions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted professional opportunities for medical and clinical laboratory technicians would increase at a rate of 11% during the 2018-2028 decade. The BLS also reported that these professionals earned a median annual wage of $52,330 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). According to PayScale.com, histological technicians made between $34,000 to $79,000 as of September 2019.
Graduates are eligible to take the American Society for Clinical Pathology certification examination. Candidates must have prior experience in microscopic sample preparation, staining and processing. Recertification is every 3 years and requires completion of a maintenance program (www.ascp.org). Bachelor's and master's degree programs in histotechnology are also available and can lead to career advancement.
Pathology technicians, or histological technicians, often get the training they need from an Associate of Science in Histotechnology program. These programs use classroom, laboratory and clinical training to teach students how to prepare tissue samples for analysis.