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A histotechnician is a type of laboratory worker who processes tissue samples. Histology is the study of tissues, which means histologists study aggregates of cells as they naturally are, or in situ. Someone in this position will spend a great deal of time working with tissue samples, and will need to be proficient at tissue processing, including staining, slide mounting, imaging, and microscopic examination. Most histotechnicians have, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in a scientific field. While it's possible to find histotechnicians with no previous experience or scientific degree, these situations are rare.
Histotechnician jobs can be found working in research institutions, governmental organizations and in laboratories of private companies. Though some entry-level positions are offered as histotechnician jobs, many in this field choose to remain in the position for the duration of their careers. In spite of the fact that some technicians work directly out of college as histotechnicians with little or no experience, making minimum wage or close to it, an experienced histotechnician can make an average salary. It is common for a private company to offer a higher salary for this position than prospective employees might find in an academic setting due to the added educational benefits often found associated with working in academia. Due to the fact that there is often a large pool of applicants in academic institutions, most histotechnician jobs associated with research institutions in higher education require previous experience.
Often, research institutions will offer histotechnician jobs to work in the laboratory of a principal investigator, who could be studying anything from cancer to molecules expressed in organotypic tissue cultures. These histotechnician jobs vary widely depending on the institution at which they're offered and the interests of the investigator looking for a technician. A private company might offer histotechnician jobs to consistently test new tissue stains or the function and specificity of manufactured antibodies against antigens of interest. These jobs are more often associated with routine processing and product testing. A hospital might also employ histotechnicians to examine biopsy samples.
Good personality traits that benefit employees in histotechnician jobs include steady hands, good motor skills and the ability to repeat a technique consistently. Learned skills associated with histotechnician jobs include tissue handling techniques like fixation, sectioning, mounting and staining. Many in this position find it helpful to become skilled working with light microscopes, electron microscopes and fluorescent microscopy. Data analysis and detailed observation are traits that develop over time when working as a histotechnician.
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