Histotechnology Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a histotechnology degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of associate's and bachelor's degrees and potential careers.
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Studying Histotechnology: Degrees at a Glance

Histotechnology is the field of study that covers the preparation of human tissue for medical examination by a pathologist. Histotechnicians prepare and stain tissue samples for a pathologist to evaluate for potential diseases. To become a histotechnician, you need to complete an associate's degree in histotechnology or clinical laboratory technology.

Histotechnicians work under laboratory technologists, who are required to have a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are expected to see 13% job growth from 2010 to 2020.

Associate's Degree Bachelor's Degree
Who is this degree for? Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career as a histotechnician or who intend to continue on to earn a bachelor's degreeThose who wish to work as a histotechnologist or clinical medical technologist
Common career paths (with approx. median hourly wage)* Histotechnician (about $25)* (Salary varies depending on where you work, such as a hospital or physician's office.)-Histotechnologist or medical laboratory technologist (around $29)* (Also depends on what sector you are working in)
Time to completion2 years, full time4 years, full time
Common graduation requirements - Externship or practicum
- General education courses
- Major courses in histotechnology
- 60-69 credit hours
- Internship
- General education courses
- Capstone project
-Approximately 124 credit hours
Prerequisites - 'C' or better in high school biology courses
- Minimum GPA of 2.0 or 2.5, depending on the college
- Completion of prerequisite science courses
- Acceptable GPA
Online availability YesNot currently

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 figures).

Associate's Degree in Histotechnology

The associate's degree program in histotechnology prepares you to begin work as a medical or clinical technician in a variety of settings. Upon completion of this program, you will have the technical skills necessary to assist lab technologists in preparing tissue slides for pathologists. You will also learn how to communicate with patients, staff and other medical professionals.

Histotechnicians can work in hospitals, private practices, physician's offices or research laboratories. Some states and employers require medical laboratory technologists and technicians to be certified before working. Certification is granted through the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Associate's degree programs prepare you for the certification examination offered through the ASCP
  • You can work in a variety of places (hospitals, medical labs, physician's offices)*
  • You will get the hands-on training you need via externships and practicums

Cons

  • An associate's degree is not enough to begin a career as a histotechnologist, who generally make more money*
  • Additional certification may be necessary for employment
  • You must take safety precautions because you may work with infectious specimens*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

You are required to complete general education courses in the areas of arts and humanities, mathematics and social sciences. The majority of your course load consists of the major program requirements. These courses may include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Human anatomy
  • Microbiology
  • Organic chemistry
  • Histotechnique
  • Clinical immunology

Online Degree Options

Some colleges and universities offer fully online associate's degrees in histotechnology. These degrees are designed to prepare you for a career as a histotechnician. However, students in online programs are generally required to have a clinical or medical affiliate to allow them to complete laboratory components. Courses are completed online, but laboratory work is completed under supervision of the affiliate.

Stand Out with this Degree

Certification is an excellent way to stand out. To be eligible for the histotechnician certification examination, you must have experience in fixation, microtomy, processing and staining slides. Joining a professional organization, such as the National Society for Histotechnology, may help you keep abreast of the latest technical and legislative happenings in your field.

Bachelor's Degree in Histotechnology

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you are typically required to earn a bachelor's degree in medical or clinical technology with a concentration in histotechnology to become a histotechnologist. These degree programs include internships at affiliated hospitals that last from five months to an entire school year. During these internships, you will gain practical experience to prepare for your career. Some states also require laboratory technologists to be licensed, which requires them to pass a written exam. Certification is also available and is required by some employers.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bachelor's degree allows you to become a laboratory technologist, moving up from a technician
  • Bachelor degree programs provide you with ample laboratory experience
  • These programs prepare you for the ASCP certification exam

Cons

  • The increase in hourly wages from technician to technologist may not be worth two extra years of school ($25 vs. $29)*
  • Few colleges and universities offering histotechnology undergraduate programs across the United States are accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • The job growth for medical and clinical technologists is not expected to increase as quickly as the growth of technicians from 2010 to 2020 (job growth projected at 11% for technologists and 15% for technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 figures).

Courses and Requirements

In addition to general education courses, bachelor's degree students are expected to take lecture and laboratory courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, anatomy and genetics. A capstone project may also be required, in addition to an internship.

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degrees in histotechnology are not available. This is mostly due to the hands-on nature of the job and the extensive training, which is required to be completed on-campus or in an affiliated teaching hospital. However, once you complete a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, microbiology or a related field, you can complete an online certificate program in histotechnology.

Stand Out with this Degree

Like the histotechnician certification available to associate's degree holders, the ASCP offers a histotechnologist certification as well. You can earn this certification with a baccalaureate degree in any related subject and significant lab experience, which is required to have been completed within the previous ten years. Even if certification is not required by your employer, it can certainly help you stand out among the competition.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Akron, OH

    University of Akron Main Campus

  • Stephenville, TX

    Tarleton State University

  • Johnstown, PA

    Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

  • San Antonio, TX

    Palo Alto College

  • Brooklyn Park, MN

    North Hennepin Community College

  • Flint, MI

    Mott Community College

  • Miami, FL

    Miami Dade College

  • Marquette, MI

    Northern Michigan University

  • Lansing, MI

    Lansing Community College

Featured Schools

Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services

What is your highest level of education?

University of Akron Main Campus

Tarleton State University

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

Palo Alto College

North Hennepin Community College

Mott Community College

Miami Dade College