How to Become a Cytotechnologist

Career Information

Cytotechnology is a field of health sciences concerned with the study of microscopic cells to identify different abnormalities and diseases. Only through cytological techniques, it is possible to accurately identify different viral and bacterial infections. Students with a strong background in science would make a right choice by selecting this discipline and serve the health industry as a cytotechnologist. Complete knowledge along with experience would help you avail great opportunities in the future.

Cytotechnologists are trained to assist pathologists to assess different cells from various parts of the body, such as, lungs, pap smears or sputum. Normal and abnormal signs are then recognized with the use of microscope. Cytotechnologists cautiously evaluate cell samples taken from the body to examine. For this purpose, they have to prepare different cytological laboratory specimen, followed by making slides from them. Once the process is completed, examination is done with the help of microscope to mark and distinguish cellular changes, if any. They would then hand these findings to pathologists who confirm the results. Many diseases are diagnosed with these procedures at a faster rate as compared to other ways of identifying such diseases.

Job Outlook

There is a great scope for cytotechnologists in health industry and furthermore, they could work in a variety of settings like regional health authorities, scientific companies, research laboratories and cancer detection center. When enough experience is gained, these technologists work in private settings and teaching facilities.  In general, there were nearly 156,860 people employed in May 2011 as medical and clinical laboratory technicians stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics; most of them employed in general medical and surgical hospitals.


The predicted average salary of a cytotechnologist was reported around $64,822 annually. (

Education Requirements

To be a cytotechnologist, one must have a strong academic background and technical training.  A Bachelor’s Degree in healthcare field is therefore, essential to start a career in this field. Other programs in this area, accredited by board of Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP), might put you in an initial position to work in a professional environment. Employers give preference to certified individuals, so it is recommended to pass American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Cytotechnology (CT) certification exam.

License is another requirement needed to work legally. It varies state to state so it would be helpful to go through prerequisites for a job in health care sector. A higher degree such as, Master’s or Doctorate’s level might be an advantage to become a cytotechnologist. Decisive and analytical skills are required to be a professional of this field. Detailed microscopic work is done for longer periods, so one should possess the ability to cope with deadline pressure and responsibility of work. Finally these trained professionals must have the knowledge of technology, equipment, and diagnostic methods.

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