Job Description

The study of cells and cellular anomalies are the domain of Cytotechnologist laboratory professionals. These vital healthcare professionals help examine patients on a cellular and microscopic level. They examine slides of human cells, using microscopes to look for any indication of abnormal growth or disease, such as cancerous or precancerous cells, infectious bacteria or viruses or inflammatory processes.

The Cytotechnologist plays a vital role in the identification of a disease while it is still in a treatable stage. This early detection gives patients an improved probability of recovery.

Cytotechnologists are expected to work both independently and collaboratively with other healthcare professionals. Cytotechnologists will frequently find themselves in a laboratory where they study specimens to help find certain medical conditions on a cellular level or diseases that can be easily treated through early detection.

They then take their findings and present them to other relevant healthcare professionals or Physicians to have them make the final diagnosis.

Cytotechnologists are critical in any healthcare treatment plan because they can help identify potential diseases or cellular abnormalities before they become a widespread issue that the patient needs to deal with immediately. Cytotechnologists have the option of exploring a few different specialties or training in several different technology fields that would offer them additional opportunities to pursue more specialized fields.

One part of the long job description for Cytotechnologists is that they are largely responsible for helping healthcare professionals identify cancerous cells or signs that might point to an infection within the patient. Cytotechnologists are responsible for efficiently and effectively preparing and handling biological samples that are used on microscopic slides, and observe them under a microscope. In addition, Cytotechnologists are responsible for knowing which dye to use to identify different cellular abnormalities or infection markers.

The next part of a Cytotechnologist's job description involves obtaining patient samples and then transporting them through proper handling procedures to be set up for testing procedures and laboratory evaluations. Cytotechnologists are tasked with examining cell samples to detect for various cellular components and patterns that would be indicative of certain cellular or biological conditions.

Cytotechnologists must use modern equipment to examine and prepare cell analysis documentation that is easy to read and gleans the important data that relevant healthcare professionals need to make accurate diagnoses.

Another part of a Cytotechnologist's job description involves working closely with Pathologists who can evaluate cellular samples and come up with conclusions that a Cytotechnologist might have been confused about or needed further clarification on. In addition to all of this, Cytotechnologists are tasked with ensuring the confidentiality and accuracy of patient information and medical records, as they input key medical information based on lab samples.

Cytotechnologists must also be available for questions from their healthcare co-workers, in addition to patients that might have questions about what the laboratory results actually mean or about how the testing and evaluation process will work.

Another key component of a Cytotechnologist's job description is to identify potential ways that healthcare testing and laboratory procedures can be improved upon based on new technology or new methods. In addition, Cytotechnologists must seek and implement new ways to cut down costs and improve testing timelines through the use of new technology or improvement of existing technology. For more information on all the job responsibilities that a Cytotechnologist might have, continue reading.



Cytotechnologists are responsible for a wide variety of tasks that revolve around testing procedures and administrative responsibilities as it relates to a patient's cellular samples. These cellular samples, as we've highlighted earlier, indicate whether or not a patient is currently suffering from something on a microscopic level, or if they might be predisposed to certain illnesses or diseases based on their genetic and cellular makeup.

Potentially infected or diseased cell specimens are collected from various sites on the body, including the lungs, female reproductive tract or digestive system.

These cell specimens are then fixed on slides using special techniques that allow the Cytotechnologist to examine them microscopically. The Cytotechnologist makes note of cellular changes that may indicate disease, then submits a report to a Pathologist for a final evaluation.

Pathologists use the reports of the Cytotechnologist to diagnose and recommend treatment for specific diseases. In many cases, this can be done long before the disease process could be detected otherwise. An example is the use of fine needles to aspirate lesions, even when they are located deep inside the body.

This procedure has greatly enhanced the ability to locate and diagnose tumors found in previously inaccessible sites.

The first responsibility for Cytotechnologists is to examine cell samples to detect potential abnormalities in their makeup and structure. The way that Cytotechnologists identify whether or not there are potential issues is by identifying if there are abnormalities in the way the cell's color, shape, size, and patterns exist.

Cells essentially tell a story of what's going on inside of our bodies, because we are made up entirely of cells. In this way, Cytotechnologists become experts at identifying cellular components and patterns that help indicate what's going on inside of each patient. Understanding what's going on inside of a patient on a cellular level is essential to understanding what methods need to be taken to improve a patient's well-being. They might not respond well to certain treatment methods, medications, and more based on how their genetic structure is composed.

Arguably the most important responsibility that Cytotechnologists have is to test the samples using various techniques. Sometimes they will have to take samples and smear different fluids and testing tools that help them prepare the slides and mount the specimens to get them ready for testing. These fluid smearing techniques are essentially staining methods that Cytotechnologists use to test different things.

From there, Cytotechnologists are responsible for examining the slides underneath a microscope. Cytotechnologists will have to be adept in using different types of microscopes to accomplish their needs to properly examine the cells and their cellular structure.

After a Cytotechnologist has effectively examined the slides, they are then responsible for classifying the slides and prepare preliminary diagnoses of each tissue sample for the relevant healthcare professional.

The next responsibility for Cytotechnologists is to take the information they've gleaned from their testing procedures and processes and develop clinical data and reports that detail the microscopic findings for each patient. These reports help assist other healthcare professionals come up with definitive conclusions as to what might be ailing a patient, potential treatment pathways they can pursue, and the cause for why they're not feeling particularly well.

Cytotechnologists are tasked with creating clinical data reports that Physicians and other healthcare professionals can use to glean the information they need quickly and come up with potential treatment solutions.

These clinical reports are also given to Pathologists to assist them with any pathology reports they need to create related to certain diseases and the causes of disease based on tissue samples and other forensic information.

In the event that a Cytotechnologist doesn't understand what they're looking at, or need additional clarification on something that they're unfamiliar with, they might also interact with and seek feedback or a consultation with a Pathologist that can provide a little bit more insight into what they're looking at. Pathologists will most often be happy to provide assistance whenever they can.

The next key responsibility for Cytotechnologists is to perform additional administrative and clerical duties as it relates to the patient's information, along with how it relates to their genome information. This process is incredibly important, and also needs to be closely monitored and regulated because of patient confidentiality standards and regulations.

The good news is that each Cytotechnologist is trained to ensure that they properly attribute each sample and maintain strict confidentiality with all of the samples they test and input into any recordkeeping system or database that the healthcare facility is using. Part of this confidentiality and recordkeeping process involves making sure that all of the tests are properly assigned and recorded with the correct information.

This ensures that no mishaps happen when a healthcare professional needs to access certain information from a distance, review something later on, or something else.

To prevent this from happening, Cytotechnologists need to make sure that they're up to date on how to use any of the database management software that their healthcare facility is using, and that they understand how to properly input and link the data for other healthcare professionals to use.

The next responsibility for Cytotechnologists, is one that is similar to nearly all other healthcare professionals, which is to maintain and keep the equipment up to standard. Every Cytotechnologist is taught the proper way to use and maintain the equipment, and over time Cytotechnologists learn some easy ways to fix them in the event that something goes wrong.

Cytotechnologists are also given guidelines and standard operating procedures as it relates to each of their equipment, and they have to make sure that they're following them closely.

Unfortunately, the tools used in the healthcare industry are quite expensive, and if they're not properly maintained or repaired in a timely fashion, then departments need to spend thousands or potentially tens of thousands on new equipment.

Another responsibility that relates to maintaining and effectively caring for the equipment is to make sure that they, along with their other laboratory professionals, are closely following safety procedures and testing standards to create accurate and reliable reports that healthcare professionals can use to diagnose and effectively treat their own patients.

In the event that the testing procedure is tainted or proper testing procedures aren't followed to the letter, inaccurate results and tests will become quite common — which can cause a disaster in any healthcare facility or hospital. Especially for those patients who hear news that they weren't expecting because of bad testing procedures.

Cytotechnologists are responsible for making sure that each slide has a normal cell structure, and if necessary is given to a Pathologist for further examination if the cellular structure looks abnormal. Pathologists will be able to identify and determine whether something is amiss or it is completely normal.

One of the most important responsibilities that a Cytotechnologist has is to evaluate whether or not there are potential ways to improve the testing procedures and equipment. By improving the testing procedures or medical equipment that a Cytotechnologist uses on a daily basis, there might be a way to drastically decrease the cost that the patient and facility are required to pay.

Lower costs and premiums mean that patients have greater access to receive new care methods that they previously didn't have access to. In addition, better testing procedures and equipment could lead to improved results at a faster pace. The more reliable and quicker the results come in, the faster patients can get their medical diagnosis and begin the path to their recovery.

Cytotechnologists work with the equipment every single day, which means that there is a multitude of potential opportunities or ideas that they could come up with that could speed up the testing procedures or improve the process as a whole through new technology ideas that they come up with.

As a Cytotechnologist, one of the best ways to identify potential ways to improve the testing and evaluation process is to also interact with other healthcare professionals on a daily basis. Cytotechnologists can learn a great deal about ways to improve any testing procedure or about some technology advancements that would be useful by interacting with and learning from other healthcare professionals in any healthcare facility.

Another aspect of a Cytotechnologist's job responsibilities include answering any questions from other healthcare professionals or patients that might have questions about testing procedures and the lab results.

In these situations, Cytotechnologists will be responsible for conveying the important information to the correct individuals, and in a way that makes it easy for them to understand without needing the technical education and background that a Cytotechnologist possesses. Over time, this communicatino finess takes a little bit of time to develop, but once Cytotechnologists have the hang of it, their job gets a little bit easier.

Cytotechnologists, like all other healthcare professionals, are often required to continue their education. This means that the next key responsibility for Cytotechnologists is to stay up to date on continuing education credits and do all that they can to advance their education in the healthcare industry as a Cytotechnologist.


Common Activities On The Job

As a Cytotechnologist, you will find that your job routine is quite similar each day. Understanding what your routine might be like as a Cytotechnologist will provide you with a little more insight as to whether or not this is a potential career that you might wish to pursue.

• Seek Information

The first thing that a Cytotechnologist doe, and is one of the most common activities is to seek information that is useful to other healthcare professionals and patients. As an example, each day a Cytotechnologist's main job is to observe and seek information about what a patient's cellular structure is telling them. What does the cellular makeup say about the patient's health and wellbeing, and what information can be gleamed and used by other healthcare professionals to assist them in getting better?

• Use Relevant Knowledge

The next common activity on the job for Cytotechnologists is to use relevant knowledge in their role. Part of using relevant knowledge in their role involves using all of the knowledge they have gained over time and through training to properly test each specimen, record the information properly, use different laboratory equipment and microscopes to glean different information, and then record the results properly.

• Interact with Computers, Technology, and Medical Equipment

The next common activity that Cytotechnologists will find themselves doing is working with computers, technology, and medical equipment to test, diagnose, and record information about medical specimens that need testing.

• Document and Record Information

A Cytotechnologist's role will require that they perform plenty of different testing procedures. These different testing procedures need to be properly documented and recorded, in the event that there needs to be some scrutiny over the results or the testing procedures themselves. Effective documentation and records help ensure that the Cytotechnologist did everything by the book, and also provide relevant information and evidence to other healthcare professionals that the results are accurate and the procedures were followed closely.

• Process Information

The next common activity for Cytotechnologists is to process the information they've gathered. This involves analyzing every sample, processing the different tests they've conducted, and then use that information to solve the problems or questions that they might be facing. Processing the information is essential to making effective decisions.

• Work With Other Healthcare Professionals

The next common activity that Cytotechnologists have each day is to work with other healthcare professionals. A Cytotechnologist job is to make sure that they work closely with other healthcare professionals to effectively treat and care for patients. Cytotechnologists have to grown accustomed to working with different personalities and communication methods for each healthcare professional that they interact with, because each professional is different in the healthcare industry.

This means that over time, Cytotechnologists also have to become adept at working closely with others in a team environment, because the healthcare industry relies on effective teamwork to care for a multitude of patients at any given time.

• Perform Administrative Tasks

The next common activity for Cytotechnologists is to perform administrative tasks as it relates to cataloguing samples, inputting the data into recordkeeping systems, and then keeping accurate and up to date patient information.



A mastery of the sciences, strong problem-solving skills, and decisive decision-making abilities are vital for a successful career in cytology.

They must be able to endure long stretches of time in a laboratory setting, working on the microscopic level, and must be able to work alone or as part of a team. 

Cytotechnologists must possess strong skills with computers and programs like Microsoft Excel, as well as a deep understanding of diagnostic methodology, equipment, and technologies.


Working Conditions

Cytotechnologists usually find employment in hospitals or commercial laboratories. Those with experience may find opportunities to work in private industry or in research, supervisory and teaching positions.

Some cytotechnologists work independently to evaluate and report on normal cells, or may work in close collaboration with a pathologist to examine cells for disease or abnormal growth.

Geographic location plays a part in the employment opportunities and the salary ranges available to cytotechnologists. But the demand for these professionals is growing and is expected to continue growing into the future.

To learn more about what it takes to become a Cytotechnologist, take a look at our Cytotechnologist Career Path.



Salary Outlook