A cytotechnologist specializes in the study of cells and is trained to look for abnormalities that may indicate there is disease or infection. They work in labs and stain, mount, and study cells through a microscope. These technologists are instrumental to help detect cancer and other cell abnormalities. Additional career titles they may have include cytology lab manager or technical specialist.
How to Become a Cytotechnologist
According to O*NET OnLine, almost 40% of the cytotechnologists surveyed held a bachelor’s degree and a little over 60% continued their education after earning their bachelor’s degree and sought a certification. If you are in high school, place extra effort in your math and science courses as you’ll need to continue to college to earn your bachelor’s degree.
Most cytotechnologists have a bachelor’s degree and you’ll want to find a degree programs that are accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (link opens in a new tab). Some states do require licensure as well, so that would be important to research your state’s licensure requirements. Post-baccalaureate certification programs are also offered.
Job Description of a Cytotechnologist
On a daily basis, cytotechnologists review cells for abnormalities. This can include differences in cell color, shape, and size. If an abnormality is detected, they provide the cell sample to a pathologist. Cytotechnologists work closely with pathologists. Pathologists are medical doctors that specialize in body tissue. These professionals help diagnose a patient’s medical condition accurately so the patient receives the most appropriate and effective treatment plan.
Along with lab work, these technologists must document their findings appropriately. Attention to detail is key in this profession as they are looking for any sign of abnormality under a microscope, but it’s also important for safety and quality. They must ensure their lab is sterile and they follow laboratory procedures for specimen storage, preparation, and safety.
Career Article Resources
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-2011.02. O*NET OnLine.
T. Dillon. Summer 2008. Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Healthcare jobs you might not know about.