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Histotechnology is an essential component to the art and science of pathology and plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Histology technicians prepare thin slices of human, animal or plant tissue for microscopic examination by a pathologist.
Histology technicians operate precision equipment and work with a variety of dyes and chemicals to make tissue abnormalities visible with a microscope. Knowledge of biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and medical terminology is essential. The identification and understanding of disease processes, including cancer, would not be possible without the skills and contributions of these highly trained allied health professionals.
Characteristics of a typical histology technician include:
- Exhibits strong fine motor skills
- Applies meticulous attention to detail
- Multitasks effectively
- Thrives with high degree of responsibility
- Enjoys working in a team
- Likes working with visual stimulus
- Employs empathy for patient well-being
- Values lifelong learning
Career opportunities for histology technicians are excellent, as histology remains a growing field. The current need for certified histology technicians far exceeds the supply of trained professionals nationwide.
Employment is widely available in clinical pathology and private laboratories. Some may work in research, veterinary, pharmaceutical and forensic laboratories. Advancement is also possible into areas such as education, test development, quality assurance and management.
The Histology Technician Program at Mayo School of Health Sciences has a 100 percent graduation rate and a 95 percent employment rate within six months of graduation (averaged over three years).
According to the 2013 American Society for Clinical Pathology Wage and Vacancy Survey, the median average wage of a histology technician is $23.96 an hour, which is $49,837 annually.