Histology Assistant: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for histology assistants. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Histology Assistant?

A histology assistant is a specialized medical laboratory technician whose work focuses on the preparation of tissue samples. Under the supervision of medical laboratory technologists, histology assistants cut and chemically stain biological specimens, which can be used by physicians to aid in patient diagnosis, or by academic researchers to study the origin and development of diseases. Jobs for these professionals are available in medical centers and research institutions.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Associate's degree or certification program through accredited school
Certification Optional but improves job opportunities
Licensure Required in some states; specifics vary by state
Key Responsibilities Collect biological samples; prepare slides of biological samples for test procedures; document results in patient records
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% (for medical and clinical lab technologists)*
Average Salary (2015) $41,420 (for medical and clinical lab technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do As A Histology Assistant?

Histology is a medical laboratory science that deals with collection and analysis of tissue samples. As a histology assistant, you would work to aid other lab technicians, technologists and histologists perform their duties. You might collect samples from patients, prepare the samples for various testing procedures and update medical records with results. You would work under a supervisor with a team of laboratory personnel as well as with doctors and nurses who order lab testing.

What Education Do I Need?

You will need some training to take on the technical procedures involved in histology work. You could complete an associate's degree program in clinical laboratory science, learning procedures and theory for the major laboratory specialties, including histology.

You might also enroll in a histologic technician or histology certificate program at a community college or technical school. Such programs focus specifically on the study of tissue samples and might include courses such as medical terminology, histotechnology, clinical histology and human anatomy. They should include both didactic and clinical learning experiences.

The BLS notes that though certification is optional, most employers prefer it. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers various certifications including Histotechnician (HT) and Lab Assistant (LA).

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2015 that clinical laboratory technicians earned an average yearly salary of $41,420 (www.bls.gov). This group includes histology assistants.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The BLS reports that job prospects for clinical lab technicians, including histology assistants, are excellent, with employment expected to increase 18% during the 2014-2024 decade.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of specializing in histology, medical technicians can work as generalists, or they can specialize in a different area, such as microbiology, which is the study of bacteria, or molecular biology, where they would specialize in running tests on proteins and nucleic acids. Another occupation related to medical diagnosis is a job as a diagnostic medical sonographer. These professionals use specialized equipment to create images that can be used by doctors to evaluate their patients' health conditions. For this job, it is necessary to complete a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree program.

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