A pathologist technician, also referred to as a pathologist assistant, supports a pathologist in examining human tissues, fluids and organs. Protective gear is used when working with potentially infectious samples, and assistance in autopsies may be required.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Laboratory science|
|Experience||Entry-level; some employers require previous lab experience|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure required in some states; voluntary ASCP Board of Certification (BOC)|
|Key Skills||Multi-tasking, written and verbal communication, and organizational skills; able to operate complex laboratory equipment and perform procedures such as tissue preparation and gross examinations|
|Salary*||$41,217 (2020 median for medical and clinical laboratory technician)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (May 2019), *PayScale.com
Pathologist technicians need an associate's degree in laboratory science. Though entry-level positions are available, some employers require applicants to have previous lab experience. Pathology technicians must pass the American Society of Clinical Pathologists Board of Certification exam for voluntary certification, and some states require licensure.
These professionals should have the ability to multitask and be able to operate complex laboratory equipment and perform procedures such as tissue preparation and gross examinations. They should also have good written, verbal communication and organizational skills. According to 2020 earnings information from Payscale.com, medical laboratory technicians earned a median wage of $41,217.
Become a Pathologist Technician
Step 1: Meet Minimum Education Requirements
High school courses in math, biology and chemistry are beneficial to aspiring pathologist technicians. Employers generally require pathologist technicians to complete a laboratory science associate's degree program. Other associate's degree programs that include science and clinical laboratory courses are also acceptable. Technician coursework generally covers fundamental studies in laboratory procedures.
Step 2: Gain Laboratory Experience
Some employers prefer candidates who have previous laboratory experience. Students may consider working part-time in a laboratory while attending school. Hospitals, medical laboratories and physician offices are common places of employment for technicians.
Pathology lab personnel in some states may have to meet licensing requirements. Education and experience requirements vary by state.
Step 3: Seek Career Advancement
While a bachelor's or master's degree is not usually required for a pathology lab technician position, advanced education may provide students with the opportunity to meet certification standards. Individuals must also pass the Board of Certification exam to obtain American Society of Clinical Pathologists certification. Certified pathologists technicians are typically required to meet continuing education requirements.
Aspiring pathology technicians need an associate's degree in laboratory science or a related field, and state licensure might be required.