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What is Histotechnology?
Overview of the Histotechnology Profession
Histotechnicians (HT) are members of the laboratory team who prepare specimens for research or medical diagnosis by pathologists. They work to process tissues that have been sampled during a wide variety of medical procedures. Fine motor skills are used to cut the tissue into very thin slices, mount tissue onto microslides, and stain them with special dyes using laboratory instruments. These techniques make the specimen details visible to the pathologist under the microscope. Examination of tissue sections allows for the detection of disease and aids in directing the course of treatment for patients.
HTs frequently work under pressure to deliver results while a patient is in surgery. They work with fragile, delicate tissue specimens, laboratory instruments, knives, chemicals, and glass slides. A HT must value precision and be comfortable working with equipment and test processes that require careful monitoring. Traits of a successful HT include: hand eye coordination, a positive attitude, organizational skills, the ability to solve problems, and college-level knowledge in sciences.
Histotechnology professionals work in hospitals, for-profit laboratories, clinics, public health facilities, and industry. Additional opportunities may be available in research, education, veterinary pathology, marine biology, and forensic pathology.
According to a recent survey of laboratory professionals done by the ASCP, HTs are in high demand. Vacancy rates for HTs are approximately 8%. Many laboratories are having difficulties filling open HT positions. Earning potential for HTs averages over $50,000 annually.