How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Cytotechnologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $61,860
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 14%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

As a cytotechnologist, you are responsible for closely studying cells for cellular changes and anomalies with the purpose of early detection of medical issues like infection or diseases. Information provided by cytotechnologists helps pathologists to diagnose and treat ailments.

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What is a Cytotechnologist?


To work as a cytotechnologist, one has to take on the following tasks on a regular basis:

  • Assess patient samples for microscopic evaluation of cellular material under the direction of the cytology supervisor
  • Examine prepared cell specimens for the presence of anomalies, and note down observations that might indicate an immediate threat
  • Ensure that established rules and procedures for handling and disposing toxic or contaminated waste is followed
  • Maintain accurate workload records of the slides screened and hours worked during a period of 24 hours
  • Provide interpretations and reports of cytologic results in standard nomenclature for easy accessibility when deciding on patient management.

Day In The Life

During a normal workday, a cytologist has to take on a variety of tasks including working in collaboration with a pathologist, running tests of pap smears and other bodily fluids under microscopes for any atypical, suspicious or abnormal cells. You will also support radiologists to collect fine-needle aspiration biopsies while ensuring that scientific laboratory regulations are adhered to at all times. Other work will be to effectively collect, analyse and maintain the reporting of results as needed by the medical facility.

In your role, you will be expected to take important decisions day-to-day pertaining to the accurate analysis of changes and developments in microscopic cells that will directly impact the patients’ treatment. For instance, a cytologist may successfully detect the early stages of cervical cancer to save lives of patients. A big part of the work involves working with a diverse range of medical staff such as doctors, nurses, pathologists, radiologists as well as patients.

Work Schedule And Typical Hours

Most job positions are full-time with 40 hours per week and weekend shifts as required. Cytotechnologists work at commercial or hospital settings for most jobs. As you gain experience in this sector, you may have the opportunity to work in private industry or in advanced research or teaching positions. Due to hazards associated with toxic chemical exposure, you will often need to wear protective gear as appropriate. The work also requires lifting of moderately heavy objects such as a case of solvent weighing approximately 30 pounds from the floor to a bench at waist height.

Growth Of The Job

Professions in this field are projected to experience a significant growth over the next two decades. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, a job growth of 14% is predicted for clinical laboratory technologists during 2014-2024 period. With more advanced technology available to healthcare industry, technologists with a grasp on new page diagnostic skills and ASCP certification in related fields of study, can find a host of employment opportunities.

Typical Employers

Individuals working in this job area can find lucrative careers working with universities, colleges, clinics, hospitals, private laboratories, government facilities and other associated industries. Benefits typically offered in these positions include comprehensive plans such as paid vacation, sick leave, holidays, life insurance, health benefits, thrift savings plan, and participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Examples of employers include: University of Maryland Medical System, American Pathology Partners, The Guthrie Clinic, Sunrise Medical Laboratories, Bio-Reference Laboratories, Inc., Northwest Community Healthcare, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Temple University Health System, WVU Healthcare and more.

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How To Become a Cytotechnologist

In order to find jobs in this employment sector, you must at least possess a relevant bachelor’s degree in health sciences or other allied sciences appropriate to the work, from an accredited college or university. Coursework in cytotechnology programs include a minimum of 28 credits of science, with subjects such as chemistry, physics and biology. Study is focused on areas such as laboratory operations, ancillary testing, cytologic processes, mathematics and statistics.

To be successful as a cytologist, one has to have the passion for healthcare laboratory sciences and cancer research. Working with cellular specimens on a daily basis requires patience and superior attention to detail. The work is challenging and gives you exposure to handling different levels of data, such as patient history, medical reports, etc. in a hospital setting. Mastering a full range of routine, non-routine, and specialized laboratory tests and knowledge of mathematical and statistical procedures will give you a competitive edge over other candidates seeking work in this job sector.

Cytotechnologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Cytotechnologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Cytotechnologist's can make an average annual salary of $61,860, or $30 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $51,080 or $25 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #254 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Cytotechnologist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Cytotechnologists

  • 2.3%   Doctorate
  • 6.5%   Masters
  • 44.1%   Bachelors
  • 17.2%   Associates
  • 19%   College
  • 9.5%   High School
  • 1.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Cytotechnologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 23,100 jobs for a total of 187,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 14% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #114 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Cytotechnologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 80,500 5,600 6%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 28,500 9,500 10%
Offices of physicians 12,600 2,900 3%

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