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How to Become a Cytotechnologist

Careers in modern medical health are constantly growing and changing. Today, a cytotechnologist can use the latest in biomedical technology and research to perform diagnoses and detect diseases in patients, even if they exist on the cellular level. 

It is a cytotechnologist’s job to work as a sort of cell detective and locate what disease exists within a patient’s cells. It involves a microscope, detailed analysis, and a keen eye for observation. While it is no easy task, a cytotechnologist is an important part of the healthcare field and their work is a necessity in these modern times.

If you want to take advantage of biomedical technology and work in a laboratory with other medical technologists, then take a look at our guide below on how to become a cytotechnologist.

What Is a Cytotechnologist?

A cytotechnologist is a laboratory professional who performs tasks relating to cellular anomalies and the study of human body cells. Their studies determine whether a patient has a certain disease. Cytotechnologists work in independent labs, universities, clinics, hospitals, and research facilities. 

The work of a cytotechnologist is not easy, and they must be analytical, clean, and meticulous in their work at all times.

What Does a Cytotechnologist Do?

Cytotechnologists perform examinations of cells. They work alongside other lab members to closely examine and evaluate human cell samples they receive. Once they identify variances in the cells, they determine what those variances are and what potential abnormalities a patient may have. The work of a cytotechnologist does help physicians diagnose diseases. 

After examining the cells of a patient, cytotechnologists write reports. These reports cover the details of their findings. Pathologists then take the reports, confirm them, and forward them to a physician.

The work a cytotechnologist does is an important step in the process of discovering and diagnosing diseases and abnormalities in a person. As the field continues to grow, people rely on them more for evaluating a person’s health.

Essential Cytotechnologist Skills


Cytotechnologists must have firm resolve in finding any abnormalities in a patient’s cells. There may be any number of strange occurrences to look for and a cytotechnologist must take careful care to continuously search to make an accurate report. 

Analytical Skills

Cytotechnologists must use skills to collect and analyze information. They should use logical steps and exhibit incredible judgment skills. In any medical field, it’s important to examine things from all angles before taking action, and that is particularly true for cytotechnologists.

Communication Skills

Cytotechnologists typically work with a team. From sending reports to a pathologist to having their findings sent to a patient’s physicians, multiple people must sign off on and look at a cytotechnologist’s report. This means you must have strong communication skills when it comes to reporting and talking to others in and outside of the lab.

Attention to Detail

Most of the work a cytotechnologist does involve looking at slides and thoroughly examining very small details and deviations in cells. Looking at countless cells, finding the slightest change or abnormality, this involves incredible attention to detail. 

Cytotechnologist Salary and Job Outlook states that the average salary of a cytotechnologist in the United States is $79,110 to $86,452. Some people earn upwards of $93,137. Salary varies based on education, years of experience, location, certifications, and additional skills.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a specific cytotechnologist job outlook. However, it does say that the job growth for all clinical laboratory technologist positions is 11 percent, which is faster than the growth rate for the average occupation. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Cytotechnologist?

It takes five to six years to become a cytotechnologist. This means, after completing high school, you’ll spend four years earning your bachelor’s degree. 

After receiving your bachelor’s degree, you’ll spend another one to two years in a cytotechnology program. These programs can either be a master’s program or a certificate program.

How to Become a Cytotechnologist: A Step by Step Guide 

Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming a cytotechnologist is to earn your bachelor’s degree. You must earn your degree from an institution with an accredited cytotechnology program, such as those recommended by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Throughout these programs, you take various science and laboratory courses. These courses build a strong foundation for your science skills and teaches you how to use different types of equipment.

While earning your degree, you get the opportunity to study cells and see what it is like to discover abnormalities in a cell and what those abnormalities mean.

If you already have a degree in a different field, it’s possible to take part in a cytotechnology certificate program. These programs take one to two years to complete and must be accredited. 

Step 2: Earn Your Certification

Once you graduate from college and receive your undergraduate degree, the next step is to apply for certification. The certification test you take covers eight subjects, such as gynecological cytology, body cavity fluids, lab operations, and the respiratory system.

You must already complete your cytotechnology training program and receive your graduate degree before you can apply for certification. 

Step 3: Start Your Job Search

Employers want certified professionals. Look for jobs in hospitals, labs, clinics, universities, and other areas where medical laboratories are present. If you don’t have any experience, consider interning or looking for entry-level positions to gain more experience in the field.

Step 4: Continue Education

Once you begin working as a cytotechnologist, all that is left is to continue your education. Continuing education keeps you certified and allows you to take more advanced careers and increase your salary.

Conclusion: Become a Cytotechnologist and Play a Crucial Role in Healthcare

Cytotechnology is a field that is constantly growing alongside medical technology. If you have a love for science and biology, then analyzing cells and discovering their abnormalities may be right for you.

Unlike many other medical careers, cytotechnologists don’t have to complete medical school. There is also significant job growth in the field and the opportunity for advancement. Take your passion for science and medical technology to the next level and help people.

If you love science, you should become a cytotechnologist today.

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