University of Wisconsin–Madison

Histotechnician (HT)

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Histotechnicians assist the physician, pathologist, by preparing and staining thin tissue sections from surgical and autopsy specimens for microscopic study.
  • Histotechnologists (Bachelor’s Degree) perform more specialized procedures than Histotechnicians (Associate Degree).
  • Routine histology areas include: tissue preparation, embedding, microtomy, staining, and frozen sectioning.
  • Specialty areas include special and immunohistochemistry staining, exposure to electron microscopy, and muscle biopsies.
  • Along with preparing the slides they also must stain them to enhance the visual detection of abnormalities caused by specific diseases.
  • Most Histotechnicians work in the pathology laboratory at a hospital, clinic, research, public health, or veterinary lab. Other opportunities are available in industrial, marine and forensic pathology.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Enjoy performing important medical procedures that enable physicians to make an accurate patient diagnosis and give proper treatment.
  • Tasks require patience, fine motor control skills and the ability to work quickly but carefully in individual and group settings.
  • Less interaction with patients.
  • Admission to training programs is limited.

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • Suggested high school courses would include algebra, biology, anatomy, chemistry with a lab, and computer science.
    • Shadowing in a medical laboratory is strongly recommended.
  • Education and Training
    • Histotechnicians complete a 50-week program, usually at a technical college or at an accredited laboratory program.
    • Marshfield Labs has a formal training program that lasts 50 weeks. Pathologists, administrative personnel, technologists, and technicians give instruction. Graduates are ELIGIBLE to take the National Board of Certification exam to become certified.
    • At Marshfield Labs program, students attend 15 hours of lecture a week during the first 3 months. The rest of the time is spent learning and practicing laboratory techniques for tissue processing, microtomy, embedding, frozen sectioning, routine & special staining, and IHC staining. The finished product is a tissue section from which the pathologist makes a diagnosis.
    • Aurora is a 12-month, full-time, hospital based program providing academic and practical experience in histology. Individuals entering the program with an Associate Degree are eligible to take the HT certification exam: individuals entering with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree are eligible to take the HTL exam.
    • Technical college courses may be considered for the Technician level (Associate Degree)program, providing one earns an Associate Degree OR at least 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of academic credits from a regionally accredited college/university with a combination of 12 semester hours (18 quarter hours) of biology, chemistry, and at least one math class.

    Educational Institutions

    University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point

    Histotechnician Laboratory Programs

    Aurora Consolidated Laboratory School of Histotechnology
    Marshfield Labs, Marshfield

  • Method of Entry
    • To become a Certified Histotechnician, a written exam via the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is required.
    • To be eligible for the licensing exam ASCP states an applicant must satisfy requirements in one of two routes.
    • ONE, successful completion of a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredited Histotechnician Program within the last 5 years prior to date of application for examination.
    • Or TWO, at least 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of academic credits from a regionally accredited college/university with a combination of 12 semester hours (18 quarter hours) of biology and chemistry, OR an Associate Degree from a regionally accredited college/university with a combination of 12 semester hours (18 quarter hours) of biology and chemistry AND one year full time acceptable experience in histopathology in the US, Canada, or a CAP/The Joint Commission (JCAHO) accredited lab within the last 10 years under the supervision of a certified pathologist or Board certified medical scientist.
    • Marshfield Labs Histotechnician Program is accredited by NAACLS and lasts 50 weeks. The program is affiliated with UW-Stevens Point and Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI. Other applications are accepted if all prerequisites for the program are fulfilled.
    • Admission to Marshfield Labs Program is competitive. They admit 2 students in March and 2 in September. They conduct a personal interview in the application process. They consider grade point average, letters of recommendations, past experiences, and the personal interview for acceptance.
    • Entrance requirements for Marshfield’s Program include a recommended accumulative grade point average of 2.5, and 2.75 in the sciences. Specific courses include: medical terminology, chemistry at the freshman level, college algebra–enough to support chemistry, and human anatomy & physiology–two semesters so all body systems have been studied. A 2-year Associate Degree from a university would be ideal to be considered for acceptance to their competitive program.
  • Professional Organizations

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

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

    National Society for Histotechnology (NSH)
    8850 Stanford Blvd., Suite 2900
    Columbia, MD, 21045
    443/535-4060
    www.nsh.org

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.

  • Histotechnicians usually work a 40-hour week, Monday thru Friday.
  • Can work rotating weekends and holidays.
  • With experience, salary increases are typical.
  • Without further education advancement opportunities are limited.