Histotechnician Career Profile

scientist handling slides
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A histotechnician is one of many different types of medical laboratory careers. According to the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), a histotechnician (HT) prepares human body tissue for examination by other laboratory professionals. Histotechnicians have advanced training in detecting abnormal tissue samples.

More About Histology

Histology is a science dealing with the structure of cells and their formation into tissues and organs. Histotechnology centers on the detection of tissue abnormalities and the treatment for the diseases causing the abnormalities.

Dyes and chemicals are used in histology. It is important to know their composition, how they act, and how they react to each other. With this knowledge, combined with an understanding of tissue composition, the histotechnician treats the tissue with these chemicals and dyes. The chemical reactions produce colors, which make it possible to distinguish between tissue structures. 

In the modern histology lab immunological and molecular (DNA) techniques are frequently utilized to provide accurate tumor identification which will aid the clinician in selecting a mode of therapy that offers that greatest probability of cure.

What It Takes to Be a Histotechnician

All histotechnicians have certain common characteristics. They are problem solvers. They like challenges and responsibilities. They are accurate, reliable, work well under pressure and are able to finish a task once started. They communicate well, both in writing and speaking. They set high standards for themselves and expect quality in the work they do. But, above all, they are deeply committed to their profession, and are truly fascinated by all that science has to offer. For someone who chooses a career in the histology laboratory, the exploration never ends.


To prepare for a career as a histotechnician, you should have a solid foundation in high school sciences — biology, chemistry, math, and computer science. You’ll need clinical education in a histotechnician (HT) program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) or an associate degree from a community college and training at a hospital.

Currently, a license requirement to practice as a histologist differs from state to state. There is not a national license requirement. To investigate license requirements for your state contact your State Histology Society.

Preparing for a career as a histotechnician is a good investment in your future. Unlike many other careers, your education as a histotechnician will prepare you directly for a job. While you’re going to school, you may be able to work part-time in a laboratory to earn extra money. And you could start working full-time the day after you graduate.


To be sure that laboratory workers are competent and able to perform high-quality laboratory tests, the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification (BOC) gives two national certification exams for histology, the histotechnician (HT) and histotechnologist (HTL). The histotechnologist performs more complex techniques such as enzyme histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy. A histotechnologist can also teach, be a supervisor in a laboratory or be the director of a school for histotechnology.

Certification is not required to work in histology but in the highly competitive market, it is strongly encouraged.

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