Histotechnologist vs. Histotechnician

This article will distinguish between histotechnologists and histotechnicians.

If you’re planning on pursuing a career in histology, you might be interested in understanding these differences. The knowledge gained enables you to pick your preferred job.

Histotechnician vs. Histotechnologist

In the field of pathology are several careers.

Histology is one of those careers that deal with studying human and animal tissue. Histotechnologists and histotechnicians are key professionals within this field and differ by their level of education.

First things First

Before explaining the differences between histotechnologists and histotechnicians, it’s essential to begin by providing a basic introduction.

In other words, let’s figure out what these histology professions are about. So, are you ready? Let’s go!

i. What’s a Histotechnologist?

In the most basic terms, histotechnologists are clinical laboratory professionals who prepare and test microscopic sample tissues.

Histotechnologists follow strict procedures during sample testing. Mounting, processing, trimming, and staining are among such.

A histotechnologist needs to be skilled and trained to handle the complexities associated with scientific testing.

Sometimes, histotechnologists are considered unsung heroes working tirelessly with pathologists to prepare, process, and analyze specimens for the presence or otherwise of disease.

ii. What’s a Histotechnician?

As the name suggests, a histotechnician is a clinical laboratory technician who helps carry out all kinds of preparations for the examination.

To be more specific, a histotechnician will prepare biological tissues for examination.

There are specialized tools used by histotechnicians to process samples later mounted on slides for evaluation by a pathologist under a microscope.

Part of the processes involved in sample preparation includes tissue cutting and staining.

Histotechnician and Histotechnologist – Compare

Having provided the basic intro on histotechnologists and histotechnicians, it’s easy to see that both technicians work in similar settings.

However, there are unique roles handled by each. This section will highlight other details like training, education, and certifications.

Other areas where both professionals will be compared include job responsibilities, earnings, and career advancement.

Career paths for both professions are also focused on. While histotechnologists and histotechnicians may differ along these lines, there are areas of convergence or similarity between them.

These areas of similarity include benefit packages, the governing or accreditation board, job growth or prospects, and the skill sets required.

Work setting is another area of similarity to be looked at.

With this said, our discussion will follow the differences and similarities between histotechnologists and histotechnicians. This will provide a more comprehensive breakdown.

i. Differences between Histotechnologists and Histotechnicians

As mentioned earlier, there are several aspects where these professions differ. These include schools, training and education, certifications, job responsibilities, earnings, and career advancement.

  • Training and Education

In the case of training and education required, advanced education within the field of histology is needed to become a histotechnologist.

Candidates will require a bachelor’s degree in related fields like biology or health science with coursework in histology.

For histotechnicians, a college education in histology is needed. While some employers might require an associate’s degree in histology, others will accept postsecondary certificates in histology.

There are different pathways to becoming a histotechnician.

  • Certifications

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification is required by histotechnologists and histotechnicians. The certification routes differ for both careers.

For histotechnologists, it includes completing the National Accrediting Agency for Laboratory Sciences (NAALS) accredited program.

More routes include obtaining satisfactory experience in a histopathology laboratory and holding a valid ASCP histotechnician certification and baccalaureate degree.

Certification routes for histotechnicians include meeting minimum requirements set by NAALS and completing 60 semester hours of academic credit.

  • Job Responsibilities

Their scope of work shows the differences in job responsibilities between histotechnologists and histotechnicians.

For histotechnologists, such responsibilities include testing biological specimens or tissues, conducting research, managing the lab, and identifying problems with lab equipment.

Job responsibilities for histotechnicians include prepping tissue samples for preservation and embedding tissues with paraffin wax.

Cutting tissue samples to size, mounting tissue samples to slides, and staining tissues with dyes are other functions. Histotechnologists can also perform these.

  • Earnings

In terms of earnings, histotechnologists tend to have a slightly higher earning advantage over histotechnicians.

The likely reason for that can be attributed to the higher investment in education. There may be a $12,000 disparity in annual earnings between both professions.

ii. Similarities between Histotechnologists and Histotechnicians

The similarities include benefit packages, governing or accreditation board, job growth or prospects, skills sets required, and work setting.

  • Benefit Packages

Regarding the similarities between histotechnologists and histotechnicians, you need to look at the benefits packages.

Both professions enjoy a range of benefits, including vision insurance, dental insurance, relocation assistance, health insurance, and license reimbursement or loan forgiveness, among others.

  • Governing or Accreditation Board

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAALS) is the accreditation board for histotechnologists and histotechnicians.

The body accredits degree programs and histology training, thus ensuring they adhere to classroom fundamentals and minimum standards.

  • Job Growth

Job growth is another area of similarity for both histology professions.

Speaking of job growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects both professions to grow by an estimated 7% within the next ten years.

This is faster than the average for other industries in the United States.

  • Skill Sets

There are basic skill sets that both histotechnologists and histotechnicians must possess.

Such include verbal and written communication, operational procedures of lab equipment, problem-solving, patience, precision, manual talent, and the ability to work successfully under pressure.

More skill sets required include knowledge of biology, anatomy, and chemistry, attention to detail, and familiarity with word processing, spreadsheet, and medical software.

  • Work Setting

Histotechnologists and histotechnicians share similar work settings.

Examples include forensics laboratories, hospital laboratories, private clinics, and research facilities. Other settings include electron microscopy facilities, reference laboratories, cancer centers, and dermatology clinics.

Both histology professions can work in specialty clinics (urology or kidney centers), medical examiner or autopsy facilities, zoo or animal sanctuaries, veterinary diagnostic facilities, and wildlife disease research.

There are several other similar work settings both professionals can work.

With the details above, your understanding of fundamental differences and similarities between histotechnologists and histotechnicians is improved.

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