About the Profession
Cytotechnologists are integral members of the health care team. With the use of a microscope, cytotechnologists apply specific criteria to decide whether the cells in a sample are normal, inflamed, pre-cancerous, or malignant. Pathologists, medical doctors who examine tissues and are responsible for the accuracy of laboratory tests, depend upon the preliminary assessment of cytotechnologists to make final diagnoses. As a result of the work that cytotechnologists perform, physicians are often able to diagnose and treat cancer before symptoms occur or before it is detected by other methods.
Cytotechnology is the study of the structure and function of cells. Cytotechnology students learn to recognize abnormalities in cell structures and microscopically evaluate body cell samples. They perform a variety of diagnostic and research procedures in the cytopathology laboratory, including processing and staining cell specimens and initial microscopic evaluation of cellular material.
The role of a cytotechnologist extends beyond detecting cancer cells. Their responsibilities also include quality improvement, laboratory management and administration, teaching, research, and health education.
Career opportunities are excellent, and salaries are increasing due to increased demand and high vacancy rates in many areas of the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17 percent increase in job demand for cytotechnologists over the next three years. Expected job placement for graduates is near 100 percent. Nationally, beginning annual salaries range from $50,000 to $55,000, with an average salary of $67,450, and the average salary for a cytotechnology supervisor is $81,728. Sign-on bonuses and relocation packages are often available as incentives from employers.
Cytotechnologists work in a variety of health care settings. These settings include hospitals, clinics, universities, commercial laboratories, public health organizations, and bio-technology industries.
A Career in Cytotechnology Offers Your So Much
- Cytotechnologists enjoy helping people and derive the personal reward associated with saving lives from cancer.
- Cytotechnologists help pathologists render diagnoses and allow surgeons and oncologists (cancer doctors) to plan treatments.
- Cytotechnology is ideal for people who are fascinated by looking through a microscope at cell samples.
- Cytotechnologists embrace challenge and responsibility.
- Cytotechnologists are problem solvers and work well under pressure.
- Cytotechnologists are reliable, set high standards for themselves, and expect quality in the work that they perform.
- Cytotechnologists are respected members of the health care team.