Cytotechnologists study human cells and cellular anomalies such as cancer, meningitis, bacterial or viral infections and other diseases. They use microscope to analyze cellular patterns and subtle changes in both the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells while performing lab tests. They also conduct preliminary interpretation of specimens from other sites such as lung, liver, lymph nodes, thyroid, salivary glands bladder, breast, body cavities, central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract etc.
Cytotechnologists may be employed in varieties of settings such as hospitals, laboratories, doctors’ offices, research facilities, educational institutes etc. These professionals either work closely with pathologists or independently. Many Cytotechnologists work full-time, but they may also have evening or weekend shifts or work overnight at 24-hour facilities.
To become a Cytotechnologist, the aspiring candidates need to hold a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related discipline, and must graduate from an accredited cyto-technology program, accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP). The candidates may pursue master’s degree and post-baccalaureate degree for better job prospects in this field. However, some of Cytotechnologists are trained on the job as well.
The syllabus includes human anatomy, mathematics, statistics, cytological procedures, laboratory operations, ancillary testing and related technologies.
Certification and Licensure
Since most of states in USA require a Cytotechnologist to be licensed, the aspiring candidates need to pass a licensing exam. These professionals can obtain examination-based certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board.
Apart from clinical knowledge, the Cytotechnologists possess various skills such as strong eyesight, high level of attention, medical ethics, ability to maintain calm during stressful situations, problem-solving and decision-making abilities, a good deal of stamina to stand and work for long periods of time, ability to work with compassion and accuracy, dexterity to handle small sample slides, effective communications and interpersonal skills, proficient in computer operations etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Cytotechnologist remains excellent in USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 14% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Cytotechnologist was $57,580 in May 2012.