What Is Histology?

Are you interested in biology, medicine and disease prevention? If so, you might consider studying histology, the microscopic examination of cell and tissue anatomy in animals and plants. Read on for information about histology degrees and careers. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Histology Defined

Histology, a field closely related to cellular biology, focuses on the microscopic study of animal and plant tissues. Histologists examine how cells process various nutrients, interact with other cells and get rid of waste. They also look at how abnormal or malignant cells function, so that they can prevent or treat cancers and diseases.

Important Facts About Histology

Job Growth (2012-2022) 22% (for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)
Key Skills Problem-solving, reliable, effective under pressure, communication, literacy
Similar Occupations Cytology technician, pathologist, grossing technician, autopsy technician, laboratory assistant
On-the-Job Training Relevant internships are available

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Degrees

Schools most commonly offer certificate and associate's degree programs in histology, but you can also earn a bachelor's or graduate degree in the field of histotechnology. Some universities combine histology and cellular biology into one program.

Histology coursework involves both laboratory work and classroom instruction. You'll usually work in study groups to solve lab problems and complete projects. Topics that you may study in a histology class include tissue types and structures, human physiology, histochemistry and cellular staining. Math, biology and chemistry courses are common prerequisites if you wish to study histology.

Career Options

If you're interested in a histology career, you can become a histotechnician, or histology technician, at a hospital, health clinic, research laboratory or forensic lab. As a histotechnician, you'll study thin slices of tissue on slides under a microscope and identify their structures through staining techniques. You'll then send your findings to a pathologist for a final diagnosis.

You might want to earn your credential as a certified histotechnician from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), which requires you to complete histology coursework, have histology lab experience and pass an exam. According to PayScale.com in November 2015, histologic technicians with ASCP certification had a median salary of $46,660 annually.

You can also become a general clinical laboratory technician with a certificate or associate's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and clinical laboratory technicians earned a median annual income of $38,370 as of May 2014.

With your bachelor's or master's degree, you might work as a histotechnologist, which involves more intricate examination of tissues and cells. According to PayScale.com, histotechnologists with ASCP certification made a median annual wage of $58,983 as of November 2015. You can also enter a related career as a science technologist, biological scientist or medical scientist. According to the BLS, medical and clinical laboratory technologists made a median yearly salary of $58,430 as of May 2014.

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:

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