Pathologist Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Pathologist technicians perform laboratory tests on body tissues, cells and fluids to help pathologists arrive at diagnoses. Keep reading to learn about the education, skills, salary and employment outlook for this career, to see if it's the right one for you.

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Career Defined

Pathology technology concerns the tests, chemicals, procedures and laboratory machinery used to analyze biological samples. Most pathologist technicians work for hospital pathologists, testing laboratories or medical examiners, and a growing number are employed by police crime scene or forensic departments. Most will specialize in the technology used to analyze a particular discipline, such as blood, cells or the pathology of a specific organ.

How to Become a Pathologist Technician

Required Education

A certificate or associate's degree in medical technology or applied science is generally required to be a pathologist technician, but some high school graduates can get a trainee job, supervised by a pathologist, and work while earning a 2-year degree in science technology. In addition, there are a growing number of bachelor's degree programs in forensic science. Pathologist technicians need an understanding of the scientific theories and procedures of analysis, as well as how to operate and maintain testing equipment.

Skills Needed

Pathologist technicians need to be organized and have mechanical aptitude. Much of the job involves performing the same procedures over and over again, requiring stamina and dedication. Pathology technology results are often needed in medical care or as evidence in court cases, so precision and accuracy are important.

Career and Employment Outlook

Jobs for pathologist technicians trained as chemical or biological technicians are predicted to grow as fast as the average from 2012-2022, while growth for forensic technicians is expected to be slower than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov,. In 2012, the median annual wage was $39,750 for biological technicians, $42,920 for chemical technicians and $52,840 for forensic science technicians. According to the BLS, the median annual wage in 2012 for medical laboratory technicians was $37,240.

Alternate Career Options

Agricultural and Food Science Technician

By earning an associate's degree in animal science, biology, or a similar field, these techs pursue jobs assisting agricultural and food scientists. They analyze and measure food and agricultural products' quality. Slower than average employment growth of 3% was anticipated during the 2012-2022 decade, and an annual median salary of $34,070 was reported in 2012.

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

With associate's or bachelor's degrees in public health, environmental science or environmental health, these technicians complete field and lab testing to track changes in the environment and explore the causes of pollution, under the guidance of environmental specialists and scientists. Faster than average job growth of 19% was forecast by the BLS from 2012-2022. In 2012, the BLS noted a median wage of $41,240 per year for this profession.

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