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Associate's Degree in Histology: Program Summary

A histology technician, also known as a histotechnician, works within medical laboratory settings to collect and prepare human tissue for diagnostic examination. The associate's degree program most commonly offered in the field is an Associate of Applied Science in Histotechnology.

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Associate of Applied Science in Histotechnology

Many histotechnicians earn their training through degree programs in clinical laboratory science or medical laboratory science. However, some community colleges do offer associate's degree programs specifically aimed at the field of histology. Such programs combine classroom lectures with clinical experience to teach students how to provide assistance to licensed pathologists in healthcare facilities and diagnostic laboratories.

Introductory courses in a histology program provide students with an advanced understanding of human anatomy, microbiology and cellular biology. Students are also expected to gain a comprehensive understanding of laboratory procedures and safety before they graduate from an accredited histology program.

Educational Prerequisites

A high school diploma or GED is a definite requirement to gaining acceptance into an associate's degree program in the field of histology. Students who have a strong background in physics, biology, mathematics and English language communication might be able to test out of some courses.

Program Coursework

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in histotechnology spend their time in classroom, clinical and laboratory settings, learning first-hand how to collect and prepare tissue samples for examination. Some courses that lead up to those skills include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Microbiology
  • General chemistry
  • College mathematics
  • Histology practicum
  • Clinical histotechnology
  • Capstone histology cases
  • Functional histology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Clinical laboratory technicians in general held 161,200 jobs in the U.S. in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). These technicians, including histotechnicians, primarily worked in general medical hospitals and diagnostic laboratory facilities. The average yearly salary for histotechnicians in May 2012 was $39,340; histotechnicians in hospitals made an average of $40,050 and those working in diagnostic labs earned $37,670.

Certification and Continuing Education

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers certification for both histotechnicians and histotechnologists. Histotechnicians who are interested in becoming histotechnologists can enroll in a bachelor's degree program in clinical laboratory science with an emphasis in histology. Master's degree programs in medical laboratory science are also available, and offer courses or concentrations in the subject of histology.

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