About Histotechnology

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,
  • and, above all, they are deeply committed to their profession, and are truly fascinated by all that science has to offer. 

How to Become a Histotechnologist

Histotechnologists are certified through the American Society for Clinical Pathology. To qualify for the HT certification exam, an aspiring Histotechnologist can either attend an accredited histology program, which is offered at various colleges, as well as online universities, or they can train on the job, with a two-year degree that includes chemistry, biology, and mathematics credits. For those who wish to further their knowledge and expertise, an aspiring Histotechnician may pursue their HTL certification. The HTL is an advanced-level certification that allows the holder to perform high-complexity testing, such as performing gross examinations, IHC, and digital pathology. The HTL requires a bachelor's degree and either graduating from an accredited histology program or on the job training. Certification is not required to work in histology but in the highly competitive market it is strongly encouraged.

Histotechnology is a hands-on profession, requiring mastery of equipment, excellent manual dexterity, and practice staining tissue samples. Therefore all histology students are required to do a clinical rotation, where they learn these hands-on skills. Their in-class education is also essential to provide the proper background knowledge on chemical composition, types of tissues, and biological responses, so they understand the theory behind their work. Once certified, Histotechnologists and Histotechnicians maintain their certification by completing 36 hours of continuing education every three years to ensure their skills are up to date and high patient care standards. Many Histotechnologists and Histotechnicians take advantage of the self-paced courses and on-demand webinars offered by NSH. The on-demand webinars are histology focused and approved for ASCP, PACE, and CE Broker continuing education credits and may be tracked through NSH's CE Tracker upon establishment of an NSH account, providing individuals with an easy way to keep up with the credits they need for recertification.

Once in the profession, they can pursue additional qualifications in specific areas, such as IHC and Laboratory Safety. Requirements for Histotechnologists can vary from state to state, with several states such as Florida, Nevada, and New York requiring additional state licensure.

How Do I Become a Histotechnologist?

For someone who chooses a career in the histology laboratory, the exploration never ends. Take a closer look:

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Histotech Working in the Laboratory

Histology Student Works at a Cryostat