Histology Assistant: Job Description & Career Info

Histology assistants work directly with patients, histologists, pathologists and other medical staff to obtain and test tissue samples. Continue reading to learn more about formal training options, skill sets, employment outlook and earnings potential for histology assistants.

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Career Definition

Histology assistants help histologists and pathologists obtain and analyze tissue specimens from patients in order to diagnose and treat diseases. They usually work in hospitals, doctor offices and laboratories. According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, histology assistants help with clinical and laboratory procedures, in addition to entering data and other clerical tasks (www.aama-natl.org).

How to Become a Histology Assistant

Required Education

Histology assistants usually have a 1-year vocational certificate or an associate degree in medical assisting. Core coursework typically covers topics in laboratory and diagnostic techniques, anatomy, physiology and pharmaceuticals, as well as the business and administrative aspects of medicine. Histology assistants can become certified medical assistants by taking an exam and completing an internship. Although the credential is optional, it can serve as proof of competency to potential employers.

Skills Required

Histology assistants frequently work directly with patients, pathologists, insurance providers and other medical staff, which requires the ability to communicate in a pleasant, knowledgeable and tactful manner. Histology assistants should also have excellent organizational and office skills, including those associated with filing, computer data entry and recordkeeping.

Employment and Earnings Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the number of job openings for medical assistants in general will grow by 29% nationwide from 2012 to 2022, or much faster than the average for all occupations. Histology assistants and other medical assistants are expected to be in great demand as health care facilities increasingly seek workers who can perform both clinical and administrative duties. As of May 2012, medical assistants earned median salaries of $29,370, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Dental Assistants

In general, dental assistants are responsible for keeping records, preparing patients for treatment, setting appointments and taking x-rays, as well as other tasks allowed under state or office guidelines. Formal training options also vary by state, but may range from a high school diploma to completion of a 1-year to 2-year certificate or associate degree program in dental assisting. As reported by the BLS, dental assistants can look forward to a 25%, or much-faster-than-average, growth in jobs nationwide from 2012-2022. As of May 2012, dental assistants were paid median annual wages of $34,500 (www.bls.gov).

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Medical records and health information technicians are responsible for the accuracy, coding and confidentiality of patients' medical records, including electronic and paper-based histories. Entry-level requirements include a certificate or an associate degree in health information technology; some employers may show a preference for candidates with a Certified Tumor Registrar or Registered Health Information Technician credential. According to the BLS, medical records and health information technicians will also see a much-faster-than-average increase in employment opportunities from 2012-2022. Technicians who were employed in these positions as of May 2012 earned median annual salaries of $34,160 (www.bls.gov).

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