Cytogenetic Technologist Education Requirements and Career Info

Cytogenetic technologists study normal and abnormal chromosomes and their roles in the development of mental retardation, birth defects, infertility, cancer and other medical conditions. Aspiring cytogenetic technologists generally must complete at least an undergraduate program and earn voluntary national certification to land a position in a laboratory or research facility.

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Education Requirements for Cytogenetic Technologists

Programs for prospective cytogenetic technologists are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels. Completion of a 4-year program in cytogenetic technology, biotechnology or a related science at an accredited college or university is generally the minimum requirement for entry-level employment in the field. Cytogenetic technology programs can also be found at some hospitals and medical laboratories.

Program Details

Degree programs in cytogenetic technology combine classroom lectures and clinical labs. Undergraduate curricula typically cover the basics of biology, genetics, cytogenetics, hematology and immunology, as well as hands-on training in laboratory information systems, laboratory techniques and quality control. Additionally, master's degree programs in cytogenetic technology provide training in management, supervision and research techniques. Internships generally are included at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Licensure and Certification

Some states require licensure for clinical laboratory technologists, which includes cytogenetic technologists. Requirements vary by state but generally include completion of at least a bachelor's degree program and passage of an examination.

Additionally, most employers seek prospective cytogenetic technologists who have earned voluntary certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Requirements for the Technologist in Cytogenetics (CG) credential include a combination of education and experience and successful completion of an exam.

Career Information

Cytogenetic technologists create tissue cultures and slides using blood, bone marrow, amniotic fluid and tumor samples. These samples are used in evaluating chromosome numbers. Cytogenetic technologists report to physicians, who use the technologists' findings to diagnose and treat diseases and further understand human development.

Cytogenetic technologists must practice safety protocols and quality assurance principles in the laboratory. They also must understand legal and health care procedures.

Positions in cytogenetic technology can be found at hospital and private labs and research facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical laboratory workers, including cytogenetic technologists, could expect 14% job growth between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). The American Society for Clinical Pathology (www.ascp.org) reported that the median hourly wage for cytogenetic technologists was between $26.24 and $28.75 in 2007.

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