Cytotechnologist (CT)

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Cytotechnologists prepare microscopic slides of cells of the human body to detect cell abnormalities such as size, color, shape, composition, and patterns.
  • This cellular examination allows early diagnosis and treatment of cancers not yet detectable by other examination methods.
  • They then report this information to the physician, pathologist.
  • Cytotechnologists follow prescribed techniques in the storage, handling and preparation of cellular materials to be examined.
  • Cytotechnologists work in hospitals, clinics, or private labs under supervision of a pathologist.
  • They may also work at research facilities and teaching locations.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Cytotechnologists like to help people. They know their work is important.
  • Their work can, however, be very repetitious and they must always be alert to detect even the subtle and slightest cellular differences.
  • Part-time positions are available.

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • Helpful high school courses include anatomy & physiology, biology, chemistry, math and statistics & probability.
    • Shadowing a Cytologist is strongly recommended.
  • Education and Training
    • Undergraduates must complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with usually a minimum of 20 semester hours in biological sciences, 8 semester hours of chemistry and 3-4 semester hours of mathematics. Programs can vary on prerequisites.
    • Afterwards graduates will be eligible to apply for a 12-month accredited Cytotechnology program that generally runs for one calendar year at an affiliated hospital.
    • Certain colleges partnered with Hospital Cytotechnology Programs allow their undergraduates to apply usually in their senior year, complete the Program, and then receive a degree from the original college.
    • The Cytotechnology Program at Marshfield Labs is affiliated with the following universities: UW-Stevens Point; UW-Green Bay; Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI; Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI; Luther College, Decorah, IA; Winona State University, Winona, MN; and College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN.
    • Marshfield Labs offers a 12-month program. Applicants either possess, or are eligible for, a bachelor’s degree upon completion of the Program. Prerequisites: minimum GPA of 2.5, 28 credits of various sciences, and 3 credits of college math. See website for specifics.
    • Mayo School of Health Sciences’ Cytotechnology Program allows application from graduates with a bachelor’s degree OR seniors enrolled at select educational institutions meeting their prerequisite courses.
    • UW-Stevens Point offers a major in Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS) with 3 options—1) Histotechnology 2) Cytotechnology 3) Medical Technology
    • Carroll University partnered with UW-Milwaukee offers a CLS major with a Cytotechnology emphasis. Entry into professional training phase is competitive and follows 2 ½ years on Carroll campus completing both general education and science requirements.
    • Core course work includes biology, genetics, physiology, anatomy, cell biology, electron microscope techniques, microbiology, medical terminology, college algebra, statistics, and general education.
    • Practicum experience at a clinical laboratory focuses on clinical techniques with hands-on exposure.

    Educational Institutions

    Carroll University
    Edgewood College
    Marian University
    University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
    University of Wisconsin – Madison
    University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
    University of Wisconsin – Platteville
    University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
    University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

    Affiliated Twelve Month Laboratory Training:

    Marshfield Labs, Marshfield
    Mayo Clinic, Rochester
    State Lab of Hygiene, Madison
    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee

  • Method of Entry
    • Baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college/university AND successful completion of a 12-month Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)/ National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredited Cytotechnology program within the last 5 years.
    • NOTE: Either the college/university has to be accredited OR the12-month Cytotechnology lab program accredited OR both to be eligible for exam.
    • Graduates are then eligible to take the National Registry Examination of the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
  • Professional Organizations


    American Society for Clinical Pathology
    33 West Monroe, Suite 1600
    Chicago, IL, 60603
    312/541-4999 or 800/267-2727 (ASCP)

    American Society for Cytotechnology
    1500 Sunday Drive, Suite 102
    Raleigh, NC, 27607
    919/861-5571 or 800/948-3947

    American Society of Cytopathology
    100 West 10th St., Suite 605
    Wilmington, DE, 19801

    Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
    1361 Park St.
    Clearwater, FL, 33756

    National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
    5600 N. River Rd., Suite 720
    Rosemont, IL, 60018-5119
    773/714-8880 or 847/939-3597

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 3,570
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 164,800
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 187,900
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 14%
Expected Annual Openings: 6,250
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $56,416

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

Work 40-hour week, Monday thru Friday.

  • Can become laboratory supervisors, teachers, or hospital administrators.
  • Those with a graduate degree can conduct research.