Pathology Assistant Certification and Degree Programs

Pathology assistants prepare and analyze human tissue samples under the direction of a pathologist. Read on to learn about certification, training, and program requirements for this profession. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Obtain Pathology Assistant Certification?

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers certification for pathology assistants at the specialist level (www.ascp.org). In order to take the certifying examination, you must prove graduation from a school accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and the completion of a pathology assistant program in the last five years. In addition to certification, you may also be required to attain a license in your practicing state.

Certification OptionsOffered at specialist level, requires accredited degree and completion of pathology assistant program
Program OptionsBachelor's or master's degree
Common CoursesPhysiology, administrative and clerical duties, forensic photography, histology, clinical hours
Program RequirementsScience and math courses, recommendation letters, GRE score
Median Salary (2019) $82,775 (for all pathology assistants)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% growth (for healthcare support workers, all other)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Learn in a Training Program?

As stated by the ASCP, you must complete an accredited bachelor's degree in pathology assistant program to qualify for certification. Unfortunately, training programs for pathology assistants are limited to in-person sessions, so online options aren't available. As of August 2019, the NAACLS's website lists twelve accredited pathology assistant programs, including two in Canada (www.naacls.org).

These programs may teach you the methods and functions of a pathology assistant. You typically learn how to work with both living and deceased specimens for identification and forensic purposes. Programs may also include instruction on how to perform certain administrative and clerical duties for pathologists. In addition to course requirements, programs usually include a specific number of clinical hours. To enter the clinical portion, you may be required to maintain a high grade point average.

Pathology assistant master's degree programs are also available. They typically last two years and combine didactic and clinical work. Classes may examine forensic photography, microanatomy, surgical pathology, physiology, histology and embryology.

What Are the Prerequisites?

During your undergraduate studies, consider taking classes in the sciences, including biology, chemistry and some advanced mathematics. You may also be asked to provide recommendation letters from your undergraduate faculty. Interviews and knowledge of the field are common in the admissions process, as well. Graduate pathology assistant programs usually require Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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