Employment Trends

How to Become a Cytotechnologist

Cytotechnologist
Written by Kate Lopaze

If you’re less interested in seeing the world through rose-colored glasses than through a microscope, cytotechnology might be the right career path for you. Cytotechnologists analyze cells taken from patients (for example, lungs and reproductive organs) to check for abnormalities or disease. Cytotechnologists can play a crucial role in the early detection and treatment of illnesses like cancer.

The Day-to-Day

Cytotechnologists are part of the behind-the-scenes healthcare team. They take cell specimens collected by other technicians, analyze the cells, and pass their reports on to a pathologist, who makes a final determination and diagnosis. The cytotechnologist provides essential information that can make all the difference for finding and treating diseases early. And as tests and equipment get more advanced and can screen areas of the body that were previously inaccessible, the cytotechnologists are an essential link to connecting that information hiding in the body to a concrete diagnosis and treatment plan.

Cytotechnologists typically work in hospitals or medical laboratory settings, though they might also go into private industry and work as part of a commercial research lab. Because of the collaborative nature of testing and extrapolating test results into diagnoses, cytotechnologists usually work hand-in-hand with pathologists and their teams. Cytotechnologists work fairly standard full-time work weeks, but may find themselves on call on weekends or evenings depending on their employers’ needs. (For example, cytotechnologists working in a hospital may need to work shifts due to the round-the-clock nature of patient care.)

For more on what it’s like to be a cytotechnologist, check out these videos:

SOMC Odd Jobs – Cytotechnologist

UNMC Cytotechnology Testimonial

The Requirements

Becoming a cytotechnologist requires a pretty significant educational commitment. Cytotechnologists have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree (usually with a focus on undergrad science and math coursework like chemistry, anatomy, & physiology, statistics, and biology) with an additional certificate from an accredited cytotechnology program. Postgrad cytotechnology programs typically last a year, and include clinical training. In addition to the education and training, cytotechnologists may also need to be certified. Be sure to check your state’s requirements on certification.

The Pay

Cytotechnologists bring a lot of technical training and expertise to the table, so the compensation reflects that. Cytotechnologists earn a median salary between $61,235 and $71,261 per year (depending on experience and seniority).

The Outlook

As medical issues like cancer and type II diabetes affect more of the population, medical professionals who work in the diagnostic arena, like cytotechnologists, are expected to be in greater demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistis predicts that the cytotechnology field will grow by more than 16% by the year 2024.

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About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.

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