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Cytotechnologist Certification & Licensure Guide

Lindsey Gram, RN
April 12, 2024
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Cytotechnologists are medical professionals who specialize in the science of human cells. Cells are the building blocks of life, and meticulously prepared cell samples are instrumental in diagnosing and treating many illnesses- such as cancer, infection, and more.

If an exciting career in cytotechnology interests you, cytology certification and licensure should be on your mind. Certification is required for many jobs, and cytology licensure is required in many US states. 

Now, let’s learn about the benefits of becoming a certified cytotechnologist and review the steps you need to take to get there. Don’t forget to check out our Cytotechnologist Career Guide for more information. 

Why Certification Matters in Cytology: Benefits and Advantages

Certification is a requirement to work in many cytotechnologist roles. Certification often leads to increased pay, expanded career options, and solidifies you as an expert in your field.

Advantages of being a certified cytotechnologist

Certification helps you get the most out of your cytotechnology career. Who wouldn’t want to earn more money, stand out amongst other candidates in the job market, and be eligible for advanced career opportunities? 

Certification is often a requirement for specific cytology jobs. Cytotechnologist certification is also a requirement if you want to take your skills on the road as a cytotechnology traveler with Trusted Health! 

Are cytologists and cytotechnologists the same?

Cytologists and cytotechnologists are the same. Cytotechnologist is the most commonly used term for this medical specialty, but cytologist is also correct. Both of these terms arise from cytology - the study of cells that make up the human body. 

General Requirements to Become a Cytotechnologist

To become a cytotechnologist, you must start with a high school diploma. After that, here are your next steps: 

  • Obtain a bachelor's degree in cytology or a related field. 
  • If your state or employer requires cytotechnology certification or licensure, you will need to obtain this before seeking employment. 
  • Upon completing your degree and obtaining the necessary certification and/or licensure, you can begin seeking employment as a cytotechnologist!

General requirements for becoming a cytotechnologist that are not state-specific

No matter where you choose to work, you will need a high school diploma and bachelor’s degree in cytology or a related clinical laboratory science field. Your cytology program will include both classroom and clinical experiences to prepare you for your first cytotechnologist job. Some cytology programs are offered online or partially online 

In addition to your education, you must obtain your Basic Life Support (BLS) CPR Certification for most cytotechnology jobs. 

What Certifications Do You Need for a Cytotechnologist?

Cytotechnology certification may be required depending on the state you choose to work in and the jobs you are interested in. When certification is not mandatory, it is often strongly suggested. If you choose to travel with Trusted as a cytotechnologist, an ASCP cytotechnologist certification and lab scientist certification is required.  

What is the ASCP Cytotechnologist Certification?

The Cytotechnologist (CT) credential is offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Review the current cytotechnologist certification requirements on the ASCP’s website.  

  • The Cytotechnologist (CT) exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions of varying difficulty levels to be completed within a 2-hour and 30-minute timeframe. 
  • There is no set number of correct questions required to pass. To pass, you must answer a certain percentage of questions correctly at a certain difficulty level. 
  • You must pay a $250 non-refundable fee to take the exam. 
  • Your ASCP Cytotechnologist Certification, or CT credential, must be renewed every three years. 

Cytotechnologist Licensure Requirements by State

There are currently eight states that require cytotechnologist licensure. Each of these states has a slightly unique pathway to licensure; be sure to check each state’s website for the most up-to-date information. The path to licensure can include specific education requirements, transcripts, licensure application, and ASCP certification. 

License-Required States and their Guidelines

  • Tennessee
    • Temporary/Limited Permit: Yes/No
    • Initial Licensing Fee: $60
    • Renewal: Every two years, on licensee's birthday
    • More Information: TN Department of Health Website

What Comes Next After Cytotechnologist Certification?

Once you obtain your cytotechnologist certification, take a moment to be proud of the hard work you have done and what you have accomplished! Don’t forget to renew your credential through the ASCP every three years. Remember, certification is typically required for management, leadership, and travel cytotechnology positions

If you live in one of the above states that require cytotechnology licensure, you can begin your cytology job search upon obtaining your licensure. Be sure to renew your license as required! Continue to grow within your profession and seek opportunities for development once you start working as a cytotechnologist.  

Find a Cytotechnologist Job with Trusted Health

At Trusted, we offer our traveling professionals premium pay, competitive benefits, and unparalleled clinical support. Begin your journey as a travel cytotechnologist with Trusted Health today!

Browse Travel Cytotechnologist Jobs 

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