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Working As a Pathology Assistant

  • Processing Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Repetitive

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Pathology Assistant Do

Medical laboratory technologists (commonly known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.

Duties

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Analyze body fluids, such as blood, urine, and tissue samples, and record normal or abnormal findings
  • Study blood samples for use in transfusions by identifying the number of cells, the cell morphology or the blood group, blood type, and compatibility with other blood types
  • Operate sophisticated laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and cell counters
  • Use automated equipment and computerized instruments capable of performing a number of tests at the same time
  • Log data from medical tests and enter results into a patient’s medical record
  • Discuss results and findings of laboratory tests and procedures with physicians
  • Supervise or train medical laboratory technicians

Both technicians and technologists perform tests and procedures that physicians and surgeons or other healthcare personnel order. However, technologists perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians do. For example, technologists may prepare specimens and perform detailed manual tests, whereas technicians perform routine tests that may be more automated. Medical laboratory technicians usually work under the general supervision of medical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers.

Technologists in small laboratories perform many types of tests; in large laboratories, they sometimes specialize. The following are examples of types of specialized medical laboratory technologists:

Blood bank technologists, or immunohematology technologists, collect blood, classify it by type, and prepare blood and its components for transfusions. 

Clinical chemistry technologists prepare specimens and analyze the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluids. 

Cytotechnologists prepare slides of body cells and examine these cells with a microscope for abnormalities that may signal the beginning of a cancerous growth. 

Immunology technologists examine elements of the human immune system and its response to foreign bodies. 

Microbiology technologists examine and identify bacteria and other microorganisms. 

Molecular biology technologists perform complex protein and nucleic acid tests on cell samples.

Like technologists, medical laboratory technicians may work in several areas of the laboratory or specialize in one particular area. For example, histotechnicians cut and stain tissue specimens for pathologists, who are doctors who study the cause and development of diseases at a microscopic level.

Technologists and technicians often specialize after they have worked in a particular area for a long time or have received advanced education or training in that area.

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How To Become A Pathology Assistant

Medical laboratory technologists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Technicians usually need an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed.

Education

An entry-level job for technologists usually requires a bachelor's degree in medical technology or life sciences.

A bachelor’s degree program in medical laboratory technology, also known as a medical laboratory scientist degree, includes courses in chemistry, biology, microbiology, math, and statistics. Coursework emphasizes laboratory skills, including safety procedures and lab management.

The courses may be offered through a university or hospital-based program that students attend during their senior year of college. College graduates who major in other sciences and meet a program’s prerequisites, such as having completed required courses in biology and chemistry or maintaining a certain GPA, also may apply to a medical laboratory science program.

Medical laboratory technicians often complete an associate’s degree program in clinical laboratory science. A limited number of 1-year certificate programs are available from hospitals, and admission requirements vary. The Armed Forces and vocational or technical schools also may offer certificate programs for medical laboratory technicians. Technician coursework addresses the theoretical and practical aspects of each of the major laboratory disciplines.

High school students who are interested in pursuing a career in the medical laboratory sciences should take classes in chemistry, biology, and math.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed. Requirements vary by state and specialty. For specific requirements, contact state departments of health, state boards of occupational licensing, or visit The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.

Certification of medical laboratory technologists and technicians is required for licensure in some states. Although certification is not required to enter the occupation in all cases, employers typically prefer to hire certified technologists and technicians.

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians can obtain a general certification as a medical laboratory technologist or technician, respectively, or a certification in a specialty, such as cytotechnology or medical biology. Most credentialing institutions require that technologists complete an accredited education program in order to qualify to sit for an exam. For more credentialing information, visit the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Important Qualities

Ability to use technology. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must understand how to operate complex machinery.

Detail oriented. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must follow exact instructions in order to perform tests or procedures correctly.

Dexterity. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians need to be skilled with their hands. They work closely with needles and precise laboratory instruments and must handle these tools effectively.

Physical stamina. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians may work on their feet for long periods while collecting samples. They may need to lift or turn disabled patients to collect samples for testing.

Advancement

After additional education, work experience, or certification, technologists and technicians may specialize in one of many areas of laboratory science, such as immunology, histotechnology, or clinical chemistry. Some medical laboratory technicians advance to technologist positions after gaining experience and additional education.

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Average Yearly Salary
$51,000
Show Salaries
$41,000
Min 10%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Kaiser Permanente
Highest Paying City
Fall River, MA
Highest Paying State
Rhode Island
Avg Experience Level
3.5 years
How much does a Pathology Assistant make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Pathology Assistant in the United States is $51,075 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $41,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $62,000.

Real Pathology Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Assistant In Pathology Massachusetts General Physician's Organization Boston, MA Nov 01, 2012 $215,000
Assistant In Pathology Massachusetts General Physician's Organization Boston, MA Jun 27, 2011 $211,000
Assistant In Pathology Massachusetts General Physician's Organization Boston, MA Oct 26, 2010 $205,000
Assistant Staff Pathology Ochsner Clinic Foundation New Orleans, LA Aug 28, 2013 $100,000
Assistant Staff Pathology Ochsner Clinic Foundation New Orleans, LA Aug 15, 2012 $100,000
Anatomic Pathology Assistant-Certified St. Alexius Medical Center Bismarck, ND Jun 01, 2013 $86,715
Anatomic Pathology Assistant St. Alexius Medical Center Bismarck, ND Dec 23, 2014 $86,715
Pathology Assistant Fletcher Allen Health Care, Inc. Burlington, VT Jul 24, 2012 $84,531
Anatomic Pathology Assistant-Certified St. Alexius Medical Center Bismarck, ND May 31, 2010 $78,000
Pathology Assistant Duke University and Medical Center Durham, NC Jan 27, 2016 $72,420
Pathology Assistant The University of Toledo Toledo, OH Aug 04, 2011 $71,400
Pathology Assistant Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia, PA Mar 22, 2011 $69,500

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Top Skills for A Pathology Assistant

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Tissue Specimens
  3. Surgical Pathology
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintain cleanliness of the grossing room and ensure lab equipments are sterilized.
  • Chain of custody: Record chain of custody when collecting, receiving, storing or transferring bodies and tissue specimens.
  • Oversee performance and professional development of Surgical Pathology Suite and Histology Staff.
  • Assist pathologists with grossing of surgical pathological specimens, as well as assisting pathologists with frozen sections and staining of slides.
  • Clarified cytology procedures and terminology for patients.

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Top 10 Best States for Pathology Assistants

  1. Rhode Island
  2. Connecticut
  3. Maine
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Michigan
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Alaska
  9. New York
  10. New Jersey
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  • (559 jobs)
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  • (41 jobs)
  • (576 jobs)
  • (349 jobs)

Pathology Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

67.5%

Male

24.0%

Unknown

8.5%
Ethnicity

White

57.0%

Hispanic or Latino

18.5%

Asian

10.0%

Black or African American

9.8%

Unknown

4.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.9%

French

7.9%

Portuguese

5.3%

Amharic

5.3%

Tagalog

5.3%

Lingala

5.3%

Chinese

2.6%

Filipino

2.6%

Japanese

2.6%

Korean

2.6%

Italian

2.6%
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Pathology Assistant Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

9.9%

Arizona State University

6.2%

Walden University

6.2%

University of Memphis

6.2%

Michigan State University

4.9%

Middle Tennessee State University

4.9%

The Academy

4.9%

Everett Community College

4.9%

Nova Southeastern University

4.9%

Texas A&M University

4.9%

Iona College

4.9%

Boston University

4.9%

American University

4.9%

Texas A&M University - Kingsville

4.9%

University of San Francisco

3.7%

University of South Florida

3.7%

Arapahoe Community College

3.7%

Northwestern University

3.7%

Pasadena City College

3.7%

George Mason University

3.7%
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Majors

Biology

15.8%

Medical Assisting Services

10.1%

Business

8.6%

Physiology And Anatomy

7.4%

Health Care Administration

6.2%

Communication Disorders Sciences

6.0%

Nursing

5.8%

Criminal Justice

5.5%

Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science

5.0%

Speech-Language Pathology

5.0%

Public Health

4.1%

Medical Technician

4.1%

Medicine

3.4%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Psychology

2.6%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

1.7%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.7%

Anthropology

1.4%

General Studies

1.4%

Special Education

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

30.6%

Other

25.0%

Masters

21.7%

Associate

11.5%

Certificate

5.9%

Doctorate

3.6%

Diploma

1.7%
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Updated May 19, 2020