Histotechnician Programs & Courses

Learn what education is needed to become a histotechnician. Find out about programs in histologic technology, requirements and/or skills needed, the kinds of courses involved and more. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Histotechnician?

Histology is the study of how cells form together into larger organs and tissues, and the application of this branch of science, called histotechnology, is very important for the diagnosis and treatment of patients in modern medicine. Histotechnicians, sometimes referred to as histological technicians, are medical professionals who prepare tissue samples for examination under a microscope. The samples are then checked for signs of disease using dyes and other chemicals. To work as a histotechnician, one typically obtains an associate's degree or undergraduate certificate in histologic technology.

Program Levels Certificate programs, associate's degree programs
Skills Needed High levels of dexterity and perfect eyesight are recommended
Common Courses Biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology
Certification Histotechnician certification available; requirements vary by state

What Programs Are Available For Histotechnicians?

Histotechnician programs exist at both the certificate level and the degree level, in the form of associate's degrees. Certificate programs may require an associate's degree as a prerequisite, although the degree does not necessarily need to be related to medicine as long as certain biology and chemistry criteria are met. Online programs exist as well, although you may be required to travel to a laboratory training site for practical work. Both associate's degree programs and certificate programs can be accredited by the NAACLS, a group that oversees the training of clinical laboratory professions.

What Should Students Know Before Signing Up For Histotechnician Programs?

Histology technicians perform delicate work requiring precision, so solid vision, depth-perception and excellent manual dexterity are strongly recommended for anyone considering an educational program in this field. Those who are color blind may be limited. A high school diploma or equivalent is required, and students must meet basic competencies to enter into college general education courses. Access to reliable transportation is a common unofficial requirement, as students may need to be able to travel to laboratory training sites or affiliated hospitals or clinics. For online courses, access to a certified histotechnician who can serve as a mentor could be helpful as well.

What Are Some Courses A Histotechnician Program Will Require?

Histotechnician programs focus on math and science, particularly biology and chemistry, since they are the most applicable to this field. As medical professionals, histotechnicians are also expected to have a firm understanding of human anatomy and physiology. Associate's degree programs usually include general education courses as well, and programs typically culminate in specialized courses in histology or techniques with microscopes. Certificate programs tend to be laser focused, with little aside from histology.

Are There Any Certifications Needed To Work As A Histotechnician?

As of 2018, only three states require certification and licensure to work as histotechnicians: Florida, Nevada, and New York. However, certification is highly recommended by the National Society for Histology, as it provides evidence of competence and capability. Certification may be required in other states in the future. To receive certification, applicants must pass a histotechnician certification exam, maintained by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

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