How Do I Become a Histotechnologist?

What it Takes to be a Histotechnician
All histotechnicians have certain common characteristics.  They are problem solvers.  They like challenge and responsibility.  They are accurate, reliable, work well under pressure and are able to finish a task once started.  They communicate well, both in writing and speaking.  They set high standards for themselves and expect quality in the work they do.  But, above all, they are deeply committed to their profession, and are truly fascinated by all that science has to offer.  For someone who chooses a career in the histology laboratory, the exploration never ends.

Education
To prepare for a career as a histotechnician, you should have a solid foundation in high school sciences — biology, chemistry, math and computer science.  You’ll need clinical education in a histotechnician (HT) program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) or an associate degree from a community college and training at a hospital.  Click here for a list of available programs.

Currently a license requirement to practice as a histologist differs from state to state.  There is not a national license requirement.  To investigate license requirements for your state contact your State Histology Society.  

Preparing for a career as a histotechnician is a good investment in your future.  Unlike many other careers, your education as a histotechnician will prepare you directly for a job.  While you’re going to school, you may be able to work part-time in a laboratory to earn extra money. And you could start working full-time the day after you graduate.

Certification
To be sure that laboratory workers are competent and able to perform high quality laboratory tests, the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification (BOC) gives two national certification exams for histology, the histotechnician (HT) and histotechnologist (HTL).  The histotechnologist performs more complex techniques such as enzyme histochemistry, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. A histotechnologist can also teach, be a supervisor in a laboratory or be the director of a school for histotechnology

Certification is not required to work in histology but in the highly competitive market it is strongly encouraged.  Click here for complete details.