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Histologic Technician Requirements and Training Programs

Majors Overview January 22, 2013

Laboratory managers and pathologists working in clinical laboratory settings rely on the preparation of tissue samples from histotechnicians or histologic technicians. Preparation of samples involves cutting of tissues, and mounting them on microscope slides and adding dyes afterwards to facilitate cellular identifications. In this article, we will look at the educational and training requirements of a histologic technician.

Recommendations and Training Requirements

Prospective histologic technicians are usually required to hold a bachelor or associate degree in biological sciences or histology. Histotechnicians work in association with medical professionals such as lab managers and pathologists among others. They are expected to demonstrate accuracy in performing technical duties that involve materials such as chemicals, knives, slides and microscopes among others.

Formal Education

An associate degree is the minimum educational qualification required of a histotechnician; however, those who hold bachelor degrees can expect to see more advanced tasks such as sampling duties and complex examinations in the fields of enzyme histochemistry and immuno histochemistry.

Histology Technology: Associate of Science

A list of accredited histology programs are provided by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). Students go through training via accredited associate degree programs in maintaining valid and accurate results in labs, providing assistance to pathologists, and creating sample tissues. Traditional courses are combined with clinical lab experiences. Coursework often includes cytology, biology and anatomy, qualitative analysis, advanced histologic procedures, tissue sample preparation, chemistry and histopathology.

Biological Sciences: Bachelor of Science

Students who seek greater career opportunities in the field pursue a bachelor degree program in biological sciences. Coursework includes psychology, sociology statistical research, and life sciences. Internship opportunities with medical centers and biology labs are also included in the program, which includes courses in Physiology, Immunology, Human anatomy and biology, Microbiology and molecular biology, Biological research and analysis, and Neurophysiology.

Job Experience

Histotechnicians with one to three years of work experience have the best career prospects. Those with at least three years of experience obtain the best jobs while others with minimal experience can expect to get entry-level opportunities.

Certifications and Licenses

Certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is a qualification sought by most employers. Both histotechnologists (HTLs) (whose range of histologic duties is wider) and histotechnicians (HTs) benefit from such certification. Per qualification norms for certification, histologic professionals are required to provide proof of experience and education. They also need to take a comprehensive examination. Certification study materials are provided by the ASCP for candidates who qualify for certification. Once they are certified by the ASCP, histologic professionals are considered to be proficient in every area of tissues sampling and preparation.

Seminars and Workshops

Technical, vocational and technical colleges offer histological workshops. Through participation in Workshops, students gain additional experience they are not able to get via traditional biology or histology degree programs. The ASCP also offers online workshops for laboratory professionals such as histotechnologists and histotechnicians among others.

Additional Professional Development

Histologic professionals can seek professional development resources that are available with the ASCP and the National Society for Histotechnology (NSH). Career advancement and continuing education opportunities are offered by these organizations to benefit lab professionals with varying experience levels. More than 130,000 individuals are members of the ASCP that provides industry articles, guides and textbooks that aid professional development. Continuing education and career benefits can accrue from membership to these organizations.

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