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How to Become a Cytotechnologist

How to Become a Cytotechnologist

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

Those who become cytotechnologists must first hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Then graduation from an accredited cytotechnology program is required.

Most cytotechnology programs include completion of 28 credits in science, including biology and chemistry. Each institution will establish the length of its program based on its organizational structure. In general, a program will require one calendar year of formal education.

A cytotechnology course of study will generally include:

  • Statistics and/or mathematics
  • Study of and demonstration of the scientific method of inquiry
  • Laboratory operations
  • Basic laboratory techniques
  • Cytologic procedures and technologies
  • Ancillary testing and related technologies
  • Screening and interpretation
  • Professional development

The preparation timeline below outlines the suggested courses:

Grade Level Example Courses
Freshman
  • Biology I & Lab
  • Biology II & Lab
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Foundations of Medical Laboratory Science I & Lab
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Sophomore
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Human Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Junior
  • Medical Immunology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Statistics I
  • Molecular Biology I & Lab
  • Medical Bacteriology I & Lab
  • Health Care Ethics
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Senior
  • Foundations of Cytology
  • Respiratory and Oral Cytology
  • Body Fluid Cytology
  • Gastrointestinal & Genitourinary Cytology
  • Female Genital Tract
  • Fine Needle Aspiration
  • Processing Laboratory Practicum
  • Advanced Cytology Practices
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

Graduates of an accredited program will have the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate a variety of cytologic preparations. Upon successful completion of a certification examination, the graduate will become a certified cytotechnologist.

2. Earn the Required Certification

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASPC) administers the Cytology (CT) certification exam for aspiring cytopathologists. It involves a 2.5 hour exam covering 100 questions encompassing four areas of cytotechnology, including:

  • Gynecological Cytology
  • Non-Gynecological Cytology (Respiratory System, Genitourinary System, Body Cavity Fluids)
  • Fine Needle Aspiration
  • Laboratory Operations

The exam progressively becomes more difficult as the test taker answers questions correctly and continues to increase in difficulty until a wrong answer is submitted.

Click here for more information and the ASPC certification examination outline.