Cytotechnologists are board-certified, licensed professionals who specialize in recognition of abnormal cells (cancerous, pre-cancerous, infected), usually in a hospital or clinical laboratory. Cytotechnologists also learn techniques of specimen collection (biopsies) such as fine needle aspiration, as well as specimen preparation and staining. Clinical diagnosis of cancer, virus infection, inflammatory conditions or other cell abnormalities by physicians depend on accurate and careful cell analysis by cytotechnologists.
What Will I Learn?
This three-year program of study prepares you for a clinical training year at an accredited cytotechnology program. You will study cell biology, anatomy and physiology, immunology and genetics to prepare you, and you can elect coursework in histology to broaden your skills.
What is Unique About Our Program?
All students majoring in cytotechnology are advised by the program director for the medical technology and cytotechnology programs, Dr. José de Ondarza. In addition to a regularly scheduled meeting during the academic advisement period, students are encouraged to attend campus visits by clinical hospital representatives (usually every fall), cytotechnology orientation (fall), and job shadowing opportunities. Your advisor is always available to discuss academic progress, clinical internship applications, job opportunities and course selections. A clinical laboratory sciences student club is also periodically active.
Job-shadowing is a highly recommended way to observe professionals in a real lab setting and decide if cytotechnology is a career path for you. We offer job shadowing opportunities at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) in Plattsburgh, which can be arranged through your cytotechnology advisor.
What Are My Career Opportunities?
Cytotechnologists are well trained professionals who are in demand across the country. The median salary for cytotechnologists is ~ $70,000. Graduates from SUNY Plattsburgh are, in addition, licensure-qualifying in New York State, further boosting their recruitment.
Most cytotechnologists work in clinical hospital laboratories. Work opportunities can also be found in industry, public health departments, private diagnostic laboratories and research institutes.
Opportunities for Career Advancement
Although there is no requirement for an advanced degree beyond the 4 year bachelor’s degree, opportunities for advancement exist. Cytotechnologists can earn an advanced degree (master’s) in their field, or specialize in molecular biology. Combined B.S./M.S. degree programs are offered at some universities. Others avail themselves of opportunities to apply to medical school or graduate school after several years of clinical laboratory work.
Kathryn Kiely, Class of ’16
“The small class sizes and easy access to professors set Plattsburgh’s program apart. All of my professors showed that they wanted their students to succeed and helped any student who was willing to put in the necessary effort. The organization of the cytotechnology major as a 3+1 program helped to get me where I wanted to be with the right amount of training and a minimal amount of debt. My time at Plattsburgh taught me how to put in the work to achieve the career goals I had planned. My clinical year at the affiliated Magee Women’s Hospital was a very well rounded training program that perfectly finished preparing me to become a successful cytotechnologist.”