Cytotechnologists

Stain, mount, and study cells to detect evidence of cancer, hormonal abnormalities, and other pathological conditions following established standards and practices.

Sample of reported job titles: Cytologist, Cytology Applications Specialist, Cytology Coordinator, Cytology Technical Specialist, Cytotechnologist

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Examine cell samples to detect abnormalities in the color, shape, or size of cellular components and patterns.
  • Document specimens by verifying patients' and specimens' information.
  • Submit slides with abnormal cell structures to pathologists for further examination.
  • Prepare and analyze samples, such as Papanicolaou (PAP) smear body fluids and fine needle aspirations (FNAs), to detect abnormal conditions.
  • Examine specimens, using microscopes, to evaluate specimen quality.
  • Maintain effective laboratory operations by adhering to standards of specimen collection, preparation, or laboratory safety.
  • Provide patient clinical data or microscopic findings to assist pathologists in the preparation of pathology reports.
  • Assist pathologists or other physicians to collect cell samples by fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy or other method.
  • Prepare cell samples by applying special staining techniques, such as chromosomal staining, to differentiate cells or cell components.
  • Adjust, maintain, or repair laboratory equipment, such as microscopes.
  • Assign tasks or coordinate task assignments to ensure adequate performance of laboratory activities.
  • Attend continuing education programs that address laboratory issues.
  • Examine specimens to detect abnormal hormone conditions.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 95% responded “Every day.”
  • Electronic Mail — 68% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 77% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 73% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 67% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 73% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 57% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 57% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 57% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 48% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone — 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Consequence of Error — 59% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 50% responded “Very important results.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 68% responded “Every day.”
  • Time Pressure — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 41% responded “Limited freedom.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 43% responded “Very important.”
  • Contact With Others — 32% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 91% responded “40 hours.”
  • Physical Proximity — 77% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 32% responded “High responsibility.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
Education
Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
Related Experience
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
Job Training
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.
SVP Range
Over 4 years of preparation (8.0 and above)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

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Knowledge

  • Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 50%
     
    responded: Bachelor’s degree required
  • 36%
     
    responded: Post-baccalaureate certificate required
  • 14%
     
    responded: Master’s degree requiredmore info

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

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Interests

Interest code: IR
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

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Work Values

  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

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Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wage data for Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians.
Employment data for Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians.
Industry data for Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians.
Median wages (2021)
$27.79 hourly, $57,800 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
335,500 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Faster than average (10% to 15%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
25,900
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

Related Occupations

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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