Career Development

How To Become a Tissue Recovery Technician: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a tissue recovery technician, including education, skills, salary and more.

Tissue recovery technicians are responsible for the procurement of human tissue for transplantation. This is a highly sensitive and important job that requires a great deal of compassion, as well as technical skills. If you are interested in becoming a tissue recovery technician, it is important to learn about the job requirements, training and certification process. In this article, we discuss what tissue recovery technicians do and how to become one.

What Does a Tissue Recovery Technician Do?

A tissue recovery technician, also known as a tissue bank technician, is responsible for the procurement, processing and storage of human tissue and organs. They work in hospitals, tissue banks or blood banks and their duties include:

  • Coordinating with surgeons to schedule tissue or organ donation
  • Receiving donated tissue or organs and ensuring they are properly labeled
  • Inspecting tissue or organs for quality
  • Preparing tissue or organs for storage
  • Maintaining accurate records of all tissue or organs procured
  • Monitoring tissue or organs for expiration dates
  • Shipping tissue or organs to other facilities as needed
  • Sterilizing equipment and work areas
  • Providing customer service to donors and their families

Tissue Recovery Technician Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a tissue recovery technician is $48,410. This figure can vary based on the level of experience, education, industry and geographical location of the technician.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for tissue recovery technicians to increase at an average rate over the next decade. This is due in part to the aging population as well as advances in medical technology that require the use of more tissue transplants.

How to Become a Tissue Recovery Technician

Here are several steps you should take to become a tissue recovery technician.

1. Earn an associate degree in a relevant health care or medical field

Tissue recovery technicians typically need an associate degree in a relevant health care field. Some common degrees include medical assisting, nursing or surgical technology. If you choose to pursue a degree in nursing, you will also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

If your school offers a program in tissue recovery and transplantation science, this is especially recommended as it can help prepare you for certification exams later on.

2. Complete a certification program for tissue recovery technicians

The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) offers a certification program for tissue recovery technicians. The AATB’s Certified Tissue Bank Technician (CTBT) credential demonstrates your knowledge and skills in the field. To earn this certification, you must complete an application and submit it along with proof of relevant work experience, pay an application fee and pass an exam.

The exam consists of 125 multiple-choice questions that you must answer within three hours. You must score at least 75 percent to pass. If you fail, you may retake the test after seven days.

3. Obtain state licensure if required by your state

If your state requires tissue recovery technicians to be licensed, you will need to pass an exam after completing a training program. The National Center for Human Existence and Transplantation Network offers a certification program that is approved by the American Board of Pathology for those interested in pursuing licensure as a tissue recovery technician.

The exam covers topics such as anatomy, pathology, ethics, laboratory techniques and medical terminology. You must also submit proof of completion of a course on human tissue recovery.

4. Gain experience working with human tissue and organs

Most tissue recovery technician programs offer internship opportunities where you can gain hands-on experience working with human tissue and organs. You may be able to find an internship through your school’s program or seek one independently. Internships are also a good way to network with professionals in the medical field who might be able to help you find employment after graduation.

5. Develop strong interpersonal skills

Tissue recovery technicians must be able to interact with a wide variety of people, from grieving family members to medical professionals. You may need to explain procedures and answer questions in a compassionate and tactful manner. Interpersonal skills can also help you work well with your colleagues and other tissue recovery staff.

You will likely interact frequently with doctors and pathologists who are relying on your expertise to provide them with the best samples possible. Strong interpersonal skills can help ensure that you communicate clearly and effectively so that they get what they need.

6. Be able to work well under pressure

Tissue recovery is a fast-paced job that requires you to work under pressure. You may have multiple patients scheduled for tissue recovery at the same time, and each of their families will likely be waiting anxiously for you to complete the procedure.

You must also work quickly when performing your duties in the operating room because the surgeons need to perform other procedures on their patients as well.

7. Have good physical stamina

Tissue recovery technicians often work long hours and may be required to lift heavy objects or perform other physically demanding tasks. You should have good stamina and the ability to remain focused on your task even when working under stressful conditions.

You may also need to travel to various locations for training, conferences or meetings with clients. Having a reliable form of transportation can help you meet these obligations.


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