Histology is the study of biological tissues. Also known as microscopic anatomy, histology is used to understand the microscopic structure of tissues, and further detect any disease or abnormalities within them. As a result, histology is fundamental to biology, pathology, and medicine, and necessary for diagnostics and prognostics in clinical settings today. Within the histology field, there are histotechnicians and histotechnologists working hard to prepare and assess tissue samples.
Histotechnicians prepare small samples of bodily tissues for examination under a microscope. Histotechnologists also prepare samples of tissues for study, but have advanced training that enables them to also perform testing on the tissue samples. Both paths are highly rewarding and valued positions that can be attained with a postsecondary histology degree.
If you are interested in becoming a histotechnician or histotechnologist, there are certain steps you will need to take before launching a career in the field. Below, we outline the requirements needed for each career path.
How to Become a Histotechnician
- Earn a certificate or associate degree in Histology.
Laboratory technicians such as histologic technicians (or histotechnicians, for short) are typically required to hold an associate degree in their field of study. Some employers will also accept a postsecondary certificate in Histology, combined with hands-on experience in the field.
Both an associate degree and certificate in Histology will give you a thorough understanding of the theory and practice behind histologic science. A certificate will prepare you for entry-level careers as a histotechnician in hospitals, laboratories, private practices, and research facilities. Meanwhile, an associate degree in Histology may qualify you for a higher starting salary or more advanced positions as a histotechnician, in fields like marine biology, veterinary, botany, forensic science, and more.
At Goodwin University, both the certificate and associate degree options are available to aspiring histotechnicians. In fact, those who choose to pursue an associate degree in Histology will be simultaneously enrolled in the certificate program. This provides an advantage and faster path to becoming a certified histotechnician. Upon completion of both programs, you will be eligible to pursue professional certification.
- Earn your certification as a Histotechnician (HT).
License requirements for Histotechnicians vary by state. In Connecticut, Histotechnicians are not required to receive certification or licensure. However, earning your certification is recommended. Professional Histotechnician certification can help you stand out to employers and demonstrate your competency in histologic science. Additionally, it enables you to use the credentials HT (ASCP) in your title, after your name, to show you are proficient in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employers typically prefer to hire certified technologists and technicians.”
Histotechnician certification is available through the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), and is recognized nationally. You must pass their Board of Registry examination to become a certified Histotechnician (HT). In order to qualify for this exam, you must have completed an accredited Histotechnician program within the last five years.
Goodwin’s histologic science certificate program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), and will therefore enable you to sit for the ASCP’s Histotechnician (HT) Board of Registry exam. As of June 2017, 100% of Goodwin University Histotechnician graduates have passed the ASCP Board of Registry certification exam.
How to Become a Histotechnologist
- Pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Because histotechnologists perform more complex testing and laboratory procedures than histotechnicians, they require a more advanced level of education. A bachelor’s degree is the standard requirement for histotechnologists today. Aspiring technologists must have a science-related bachelor’s degree, in combination with an accredited histology certificate.
At Goodwin, students often come with a bachelor’s degree in hand, but desire to specialize in histology and pursue a histotechnologist career. They are able to do so by completing our certificate program, which takes just a matter of months. On the other hand, some students choose to start with their associate degree and certificate in histology—to launch their career and gain experience in the field—and later come back to school to complete their bachelor’s degree. This is possible through the
- Earn professional certification as a Histotechnologist (HTL).
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, Histotechnologists should also earn certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Passing the ASCP board examination for Histotechnologists will grant you professional certification as an HTL (ASCP). Though not nationally required, this certification will enable you to advance your career and achieve higher pay grades than without. It will also elevate your standard of work, and others’ trust in you as a competent Histotechnologist.
In order to qualify for the ASCP’s Histotechnologist (HTL) examination, you need to:
- Successfully complete an NAACLS-accredited histotechnician program, like Goodwin’s, and
- Possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university. During this education, you must have completed a collective 30 semester hours of biology and chemistry.
Launch Your Career Today
No matter whether you choose to launch your career as a Histotechnician, or reach for a Histotechnologist position, you can start your journey at Goodwin University. Contact our admissions team at 800-889-3282 to learn more, or explore our histology programs online.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.