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Histotechnology Certificate program

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Histotechnology?
Histotechnology is the scientific discipline that studies organs and tissues of the body including their preparation for viewing under a microscope. This technology integrates biology, chemistry, histochemistry and immunology in order to identify tissue and cell types as well as microorganisms and pigments. Practitioners of the discipline may be found in medical, veterinary, research, pharmaceutical, industrial and forensic laboratories where their efforts contribute to the investigation of disease in man and animals as well as the development of new drugs and treatment strategies.
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What is a Histotechnologist?
Histotechnologists, along with histotechnicians, are the practitioners of the discipline. The diagnosis and understanding of disease processes, including cancer, would not be possible without the skills and contributions of the histotechnologist. Histotechnologists have academic training at the Baccalaureate level, while technicians typically hold an Associate’s degree. Histotechnologists must be experts in the handling and preparation of tissues as many of the samples they work with cannot be replaced.
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What do Histotechnologists do?
Histotechnologists perform complex procedures to preserve and process tissues of the body. They must possess a sound foundation of the theoretical concepts that form the basis of the methods they employ. Their duties include identifying tissue structure and cell components, relating the test results to physiological functions, and implementing new testing techniques and procedures. Histotechnologists typically perform esoteric testing procedures that may include tinctorial (dye) staining of tissues, enzyme histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization and electron microscopy. Their skills may be needed during a patient’s surgery when a diagnosis is needed quickly. Therefore, histotechnologists must be extremely meticulous and accurate in their work and may choose to become highly specialized. Those having administrative aspirations may go on to become supervisors or managers.
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Where do Histotechnologists practice?
Histotechnologists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, universities, private laboratories, and public health organizations as well as veterinary, research, pharmaceutical and forensic laboratories. Some may work for scientific equipment firms to assist in the development of new instrumentation or to provide technical support to clients.
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What kind of training will I need in order to practice histotechnology?
Histotechnologists must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably from an accredited histotechnology educational program. In addition to histology and histochemistry, you’ll learn processing techniques, preparation of specimens and microcopy. Course work generally includes medical terminology, biology, chemistry, immunology, anatomy, and physiology.
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Do I need to be licensed to practice as a histotechnologist?
Licensing regulations vary from state-to-state. Many do not require a specific license to practice as a histotechnologist however certification is highly recommended because many employers require it. One may achieve certification after successful completion of a written examination that demonstrates a sufficient knowledge and expertise to meet a national standard. Certification from a national certifying agency such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) allows one to utilize the initials HTL(ASCP) after one’s name in all professional communications.

For more information about certification visit www.ascp.org/bor

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What is the salary range for histotechnologists?
According to the American Medical Association, entry-level histotechnologists make an average of $33,000 annually however salaries vary among the various regions of the country. An aging population and a shortage of histotechnologists throughout the nation have created a strong need for these professionals.
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When do I need to apply to the program?

Please refer to the academic calender link for application deadlines and other important dates.
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Do you accept applications from international students?

Unfortunately because we are a small hospital-based program we do not have the resources to accept international students.

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How well do program graduates perform on the HTL Board of Certification exam?

The overall pass rate for graduates sitting for the HTL Board of Certification exam is 80%. This includes graduates since 2007 (the program's first graduates). The national pass rate in 2012 was 62.2%.

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How many of your graduates find jobs after program completion?

Our graduates have been very successful in finding jobs. In fact, many of our graduates from the onsite program have secured jobs in the MUSC histology laboratory. All graduates who have sought employment in histology have been placed.

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