Becoming a Cytogenetic Technician

Cytogenetic Technicians are dedicated to analyze the structure of human chromosomes found in various biological specimens and their relationship to a variety of diseases. They usually use sophisticated equipment and techniques to detect abnormalities in fetal chromosomes that can lead to birth defects and various diseases such as mental retardation, infertility, cancer and miscarriage. Their key responsibilities include collecting, preparing, testing the cell samples for various genetic disorders. They also assist the doctors in the treatment plans.

Cytogenetic Technicians may find employment in varieties of settings such as hospitals, clinics, medical laboratories, research facilities etc. These professionals work full time. In some cases, they may need to work in weekends or nights.

Educational Requirements

To qualify for the position of a Cytogenetic Technician, the aspiring candidates have to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in cytotechnology, medical technology, biology, chemistry or a related area. The students can pursue master’s degree and post-baccalaureate degree for better job opportunities in this field.

The syllabus includes human anatomy, cellular biology, hematology, biochemistry, genetics, immunology, cytological procedures, computer imaging, laboratory operations, and related technologies.

Certification and Licensure

Since the position of a Cytogenetic Technician requires a licensure in most of the states, the aspiring candidates need to pass a licensing exam. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board offers examination-based certification to these professionals.

Skill Set

Cytogenetic Technicians have a great deal of understanding in cell culture, cell growth cycle, and microscopy. They also possess various traits such as excellent attention to detail, good eyesight, high standard of dexterity, management abilities, critical thinking skills, ability to work under pressure situation, high level of physical stamina to work for long duration, ability to work with accuracy, decision making abilities, excellent communications and interpersonal skills, competent in computer technology.

Job Outlook and Salary

The job outlook for a Cytogenetic Technician remains excellent in USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 30% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Cytogenetic Technician was $40,750 in May 2014.