Histotechnicians, also referred to as histologic technicians or histology techs, are clinical laboratory technicians who work closely with pathologists and other medical professionals, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Histotechnicians are trained in the proper preparation of body tissues from either humans or animals for research, diagnostic or teaching purposes.
Histologic technicians process tissue samples of animals or humans for examination by pathologists, research scientists and other medical professionals. Preparation of tissue may include sectioning and dehydrating the sample, fixing and mounting the sample on a microscope slide and staining the sample, according to Florida Area Health Education Centers.
Training for histotechnicians is typically offered at local community colleges or vocational-technical schools. Most institutions require a high school diploma or educational equivalent for admittance. The course of study typically lasts for 12 months and includes both classroom and laboratory work. Coursework may include studies in medical ethics, chemistry, medical terminology, computer technology, laboratory mathematics, immunology, anatomy, histology, instrumentation and administration procedures, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA recommends that students pursue studies in histotechnology as part of an associate's degree program.
Histotechnicians may work in hospitals, clinical laboratories, surgical centers, doctors' offices, research laboratories, veterinary clinics and in other settings. They may work for law enforcement agencies, pharmaceutical companies or health care organizations, according to the Community College of Rhode Island. The work week of histotechnicians may vary based upon the type of employer. Some industries offer histotechnicians a regular 40-hour work week, while some larger laboratories and hospitals may be open around the clock and require work on the weekends, nights or evenings.
Employment opportunities for clinical laboratory technicians are expected to expand by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS. Most of these jobs are expected to be in hospital settings, but job growth is also expected in doctors' offices and laboratory settings. The BLS notes that histotechnicians who are willing to transfer or relocate should have the most favorable job opportunities.
Histotechnicians in the United States earned an average annual salary of approximately $48,500 as of July 2010, according to Salary.com. Salary accounted for approximately 70 percent of a histotechnician's total compensation. Employer contributions to private and government retirement programs, health and disability insurance and paid time off combined to give histotechnicians a total compensation of approximately $69,000 per year.
- Florida Area Health Education Centers: Histotechnician
- Community College of Rhode Island: Histotechnician Frequently Asked Questions
- American Medical Association: Histotechnician (pdf)
- Salary Wizard: Histology Technician: U.S. National Averages
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
- Photo Credit microscope image by guy from Fotolia.com