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Who is a Cytotechnologist?

A cytotechnologist, who is otherwise known as cytologist, is a specialized clinical laboratory scientist who would examine the cells for deformities. In most cases, cytotechnologists would work independently carrying out a detailed microscopic examination of cells under study. Most cytotechnologists are trained specifically for detecting cancers.

Most of the cytotechnologists are being employed in hospitals. Some other cytologists may get their employment in doctors’ offices or in diagnostic laboratories.

Job Description:

As a cytotechnologist, you may have to perform the following tasks:

  • Working closely with pathologists in finding out the cause and nature of diseases

  • Finding out whether a cell sample is benign or cancerous, and if cancerous, the type of cancer

  • Preparing slides of the cells for study

  • Scrutinizing the cells through the microscopes, looking for distinctions in the following aspects of cell structures:

    • Color

    • Size

    • Shape

  • Identifying which variations in cells are normal and which indicate disease

  • Noting down the findings

  • Taking photos in order to support conclusions

  • Teaching pathology residents in ‘cytotechnology training programs’ in hospitals and universities

  • Cleaning and performing light maintenance on laboratory equipment

  • Supervising lab technicians

Being a cytotechnologist, you must be able to examine cell samples using the following methods:

  • PAP smears

  • Fine needle aspiration

  • Microscopy

How to become a Cytotechnologist?

Educational Requirements:

In order to become a cytotechnologist, a strong base should be laid right at the high school level itself. After finishing high school, candidates are recommended to get into an accredited program in the cytotechnology field. In the United States, currently, there are 48 accredited programs in cytotechnology. This information is according to the ‘American Society for Cytotechnology’. The cytotehnology programs are being accredited by the following two bodies:

  • National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences

  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Cytotechnology coursework will include the following subjects:

  • Principles of cytology

  • Embryology

  • Human anatomy

  • Endocrinology

  • Parasitology

  • Cytochemistry

  • Clinical medicine

  • Immunology

  • Histology

  • Inflammatory diseases

Most typically, a candidate would complete a cytotechnology course alongside the bachelor’s degree program.

Certification and Licensing:

For obtaining the Cytotechnologist certification issued by the ‘American Society of Clinical Pathology’, you must have completed a bachelor’s degree plus an accredited training program in cytotechnology.

Although a license is not mandatory in most of the states, some states and Puerto Rico require the cytologists to have a license. For obtaining a license, the candidate must pass a licensing exam.

Job Outlook and Opportunities:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunity for the larger group of medical and clinical laboratory technologists (including cytotechnologists) has been estimated to increase by 22% from the year 2012 to 2022.


According to the, the median annual pay for a cytotechnologist was found to be $69,190 per year.


Average Annual Pay:  $69,190

Education:  Bachelor’s degree plus a post-baccalaureate certificate

Employment Growth from 2012 to 2022: 22%

On-the-job training: None

Work Experience: None