A cytogenetic technologist has an important role in the discovery and development of normal and abnormal chromosomes. A bachelor's degree, licensure and certification is often required, but may not always be mandatory.
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Cytogenetic technologists study normal and abnormal chromosomes and their roles in the development of mental retardation, birth defects, infertility, cancer and other medical conditions. Cytogenetic technologists report to physicians, who use the technologists' findings to diagnose and treat diseases and further understand human development. Positions in cytogenetic technology can be found at hospitals, private labs, and at research facilities.
Aspiring cytogenetic technologists generally must complete at least a bachelor's degree program and earn voluntary national certification to land a position in a laboratory or research facility. Some states do have licensure requirements for laboratory technologists.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure may be required; certification is voluntary but may be preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||14%* (for medical and clinical laboratory technologists, including cytogenetic technologists)|
|Median Salary (May 2015)||$60,520* (for medical and clinical laboratory technologists, including cytogenetic technologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Cytogenetic technologists create tissue cultures and slides using blood, bone marrow, amniotic fluid and tumor samples. These samples are used in evaluating chromosome numbers. Cytogenetic technologists must practice safety protocols and quality assurance principles in the laboratory. They also must understand legal and health care procedures.
Programs for prospective cytogenetic technologists are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels. Completion of a 4-year program in cytogenetic technology, biotechnology or a related science at an accredited college or university is generally the minimum requirement for entry-level employment in the field. Cytogenetic technology programs can also be found at some hospitals and medical laboratories.
Degree programs in cytogenetic technology combine classroom lectures and clinical labs. Undergraduate curricula typically cover the basics of biology, genetics, cytogenetics, hematology and immunology, as well as hands-on training in laboratory information systems, laboratory techniques and quality control. Additionally, master's degree programs in cytogenetic technology provide training in management, supervision and research techniques. Internships generally are included at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Licensure and Certification
Some states require licensure for clinical laboratory technologists, which includes cytogenetic technologists. Requirements vary by state but generally include completion of at least a bachelor's degree program and passage of an examination.
Additionally, most employers seek prospective cytogenetic technologists who have earned voluntary certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Requirements for the Technologist in Cytogenetics (CG) credential include a combination of education and experience and successful completion of an exam.
Job Outlook and Salary Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and clinical laboratory technologists, including cytogenetic technologists, could expect a 14% job growth between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, the BLS reported that the annual median salary of medical and clinical laboratory technologists was $60,520.
In addition to the educational background requirements, prospective cytogenetic technologists may need to go through an internship before he or she can begin working on their own. Applicants will also need to practice strict safety protocols and quality assurance principles in the laboratory while having an understanding of basic health fundamentals.