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Become a Pathology Technician

written by: Victoria Trix•edited by: DaniellaNicole•updated: 1/31/2009

Do you want to become a pathology technician? This article will help you to understand what education and other requirements you need to know to start you on the path to become a pathology technician.

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    Become a Pathology Technician: What is a Pathology Technician?

    A pathology technician is a medical professional who prepares and examines slides of human tissues, organs and surgical specimens for research, diagnosis or training purposes. Pathology technicians usually specialize in either post surgical tissue collection and analysis, or postmortem sample study. There are several things you need to know in order to become a pathology technician.

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    Become a Pathology Technician: Pathology Technician Training

    In order to become a pathology technician you must have a bachelor’s degree with a major in a scientific based field and maintain a 3.0 GPA to advance to graduate training. Upon completion of the 4-year degree program, a candidate who wishes to become a pathology technician must attend an additional 2 years of training in a NAACLS accredited pathology program. The pathology technician training program includes 1 year of classroom training and 1 year of field experience working under the supervision of a pathologist in a hospital or laboratory setting.

    State requirements for licensing and certification to become a pathology technician vary, and it is important to check the requirements of the state in which you wish to practice pathology before enrolling in a training program.

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    Become a Pathology Technician: Pathology Technician Specialization – Post-Mortem

    Specific responsibilities of a postmortem pathology technician include assisting the pathologists determine a cause of death by dissecting and analyzing tissue samples and organs of the deceased. During an autopsy, the pathology technician passes instruments to the pathologist, takes tissue and organ samples for analysis, weighs organs as they are removed, and recordings findings of the exam. After the performing of an autopsy, the pathology technician will assist with reconstructing and cleaning the body so it can be transferred to storage or a mortician. Day to day activities of a postmortem pathology technician include sterilization of instruments and receipt, recording and storing of bodies for examination.

    In addition to the clinical aspects of the postmortem duties, to become a pathology technician you will also work closely with doctors, the police, coroner's office staff and the relatives of those who have died.

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    Become a Pathology Technician: Pathology Technician Specialization – Post-Surgical

    The post-surgical pathology technician assists the pathologist in diagnosis of medical conditions by preparing tissue samples onto slides for analysis. The pathology technician will be responsible for assuring that all instruments are sterilized and that all samples are properly labeled and recorded for analysis and diagnosis. Additional specific duties will include performing staining techniques of tissue samples for light microscopy for review by pathologists, performing gross examination of small specimens under indirect supervision of the surgical pathologist, and maintain photographic logs of specimens.

    Pathology technicians can expect to earn an annual salary of between $32,000 and $45,000, which will include paid holidays, paid vacations and health insurance benefits. These steps will have you on the road to become a pathology technician and having the career you want.

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