Job Search

Cytotechnologist vs. Histotechnologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Cytotechnologists and histotechnologists are two types of medical laboratory scientists who study cells and tissues. These professionals use their knowledge to diagnose and treat disease. If you’re interested in a career in medical science, learning about the similarities and differences between these positions can help you decide which one is right for you. In this article, we compare and contrast cytotechnologists and histotechnologists, and we provide information on job outlook and salary expectations.

What is a Cytotechnologist?

Cytotechnologists are medical laboratory professionals who specialize in the study of cells. They prepare slides of cells for examination and use a microscope to look for abnormal cells. Cytotechnologists often work in hospitals, clinics or private laboratories. They may also work in research facilities or pharmaceutical companies. Cytotechnologists typically need a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science or a related field. They must also pass a national certification exam.

What is a Histotechnologist?

Histotechnologists are laboratory professionals who prepare tissue samples for examination by pathologists. They collect tissue samples from patients undergoing biopsies or surgeries and process them using a variety of techniques. This may involve cutting the tissue into thin slices, staining the tissue to highlight specific features or embedding the tissue in wax. Once the tissue is prepared, histotechnologists place it on slides and label them with the patient’s information. The slides are then sent to pathologists who examine them to diagnose diseases or determine the cause of death.

Cytotechnologist vs. Histotechnologist

Here are the main differences between a cytotechnologist and a histotechnologist.

Job Duties

Cytotechnologists and histotechnologists share some of the same job duties, such as preparing cytology samples for analysis. They may also perform additional tasks related to their specific type of sample. For example, a cytotechnologist may prepare cervical or breast cancer samples for examination, while a histotechnologist typically prepares skin or lymph node samples. Another key difference is that a cytotechnologist may perform quality assurance testing on equipment and processes, while a histotechnologist typically performs technical operations, such as staining slides.

Job Requirements

Cytotechnologists and histotechnologists typically need a bachelor’s degree in cytotechnology or histotechnology. These programs usually take four years to complete and include coursework in biology, chemistry and other sciences. Some states also require cytotechnologists and histotechnologists to be licensed. After completing their education, these professionals must pass an exam administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

Work Environment

Both cytotechnologists and histotechnologists work in laboratories, where they perform their duties. The type of laboratory that a technologist works in depends on the specialty. For example, a histotechnologist may work in a hospital or doctor’s office laboratory, while a cytotechnologist may work in a research facility or pharmaceutical company laboratory.

The work environment for both positions is similar, as both professionals wear protective clothing to prevent contamination and use specialized equipment to complete their tasks. However, because cytotechnologists often work with more dangerous materials than histotechnologists, they may have additional safety measures in place, such as wearing masks and gloves.


Both cytotechnologists and histotechnologists use microscopes to examine cells, but they have different responsibilities. Cytotechnologists typically screen cells for abnormalities, while histotechnologists prepare tissue samples for examination by pathologists.

Both of these professionals need excellent attention to detail to accurately identify cells or tissue abnormalities. They also need to be able to keep accurate records of their findings. However, because cytotechnologists are responsible for screening a large number of cells, they also need to have strong time management skills to ensure they do not miss any abnormal cells. Histotechnologists often work with more complex tissue samples, so they may need to have stronger problem-solving skills to correctly prepare the sample.


The average salary for a cytotechnologist is $83,587 per year, while the average salary for a histotechnologist is $71,690 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the company and the level of experience the professional has.


Compliance Officer vs. Compliance Manager: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Content Strategist vs. Content Manager: What Are the Differences?