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How do I Become a Histology Technician?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
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  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Clinical researchers called histology technicians carefully prepare and analyze samples of living tissue to detect abnormalities. Technicians place samples on microscope slides and assist pathologists in identifying disease. A person who wants to become a histology technician can maximize his or her chances of finding work by completing a two-year associate's degree program and passing a voluntary certification test. A newly certified technician is qualified to pursue entry-level work in one of many different medical research settings, including general hospitals, specialty clinics, and private laboratories.

A person who thinks he or she might want to become a histology technician should make sure the specific job duties fit his or her interests. Technicians need to be detail-oriented and well organized to keep track of materials. Professionals are required to communicate frequently with other laboratory personnel and medical doctors to organize experiments and report results. They are responsible for keeping instruments sterile and in working order at all times. In addition, histology technicians spend a significant amount of time entering data into computers and typing laboratory documents.

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High school courses in computer science, communications, biology, and chemistry can help prepare a person to become a histology technician. In fact, some laboratories will hire entry-level workers who hold high school diplomas. Most employers, however, require prospective technicians to obtain associate's degrees from accredited community colleges or specialty technical schools. Most associate's degree programs take about two years to complete and provide both classroom instruction and hands-on practical training. Students have the opportunity to practice using microscopes, preparing slides, and writing reports.

When choosing a histology technician training program, a prospective student should thoroughly investigate the credentials of the school and its teachers to ensure a quality education. By speaking with admissions advisers and browsing school Web sites, an individual can find out about tuition rates, graduate statistics, and job placement services offered by different programs.

Once a person successfully completes an associate's degree program, he or she should consider pursuing voluntary certification from a respected organization. In the United States, for example, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) grants certification to people who graduate from accredited institutions and pass detailed exams. Many other countries feature organizations similar to the ASCP that provide credentials to new technicians. After receiving certification, a person can begin submitting applications and resumes to potential employers.

A new professional can become a histology technician at a hospital, public health clinic, government research organization, or a private laboratory. Working at hospitals and clinics can be very hectic, and frequently requires technicians to work overtime, nights, and weekends to help in emergency situations. A person who chooses to become a histology technician at a research laboratory is more likely to enjoy regular hours; in either work environment, though, careful, efficient work is very important. Regardless of employment settings, new technicians who gain experience and prove their skills are often able to become technologists or supervisors in time.

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