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Cytotechnologist jobs are available in a number of different environments, from research to the medical laboratory and various teaching positions. Cytology usually requires an advanced degree in medical laboratory sciences, and the cytotechnologist should possess numerous skills the medical laboratory technologist does not. This advanced knowledge often gives the cytotechnologist a better understanding when it comes to abnormalities in cellular structure that may herald the onset of disease.
As cytotechnology deals with the advanced study of cells and their abnormalities, the cytotechnologist is an invaluable resource in the medical laboratory. A medical technologist is trained to identify basic abnormalities in cell structure. The cytotechnologist is highly trained to correctly identify these abnormalities and can assist the doctor in putting them in a diagnostic context. Cytotechnology is best known for the identification of cancer from random biopsies and for the role it plays in the examination of PAP smears.
Cytotechnologist jobs are available in numerous diagnostic fields. They may be found in hospital laboratories, although this is not common. As a general rule, hospitals in need of a professional cytotechnologist will ship the sample out to an advanced laboratory outside of the hospital setting. This laboratory usually contains a team of professionals, such as the cytotechnologist, and specializes in abnormal samples and those requiring the expertise of a specialized laboratorian. They will, however, often take in samples from phlebotomy centers without a laboratory on the premises.
Aside from these specialized centers, cytotechnologist jobs are also widely available in research centers. Cancer research centers often employ a large team of cytotechnologists on the premises. An experienced cytotechnologist can also find cytotechnologist jobs in the teaching profession, where they work with up-and-coming technologists to teach them the basics of the job. Their field experience makes them an invaluable resource for these students, many of whom are medical laboratory technologists seeking an advanced degree, and who are familiar with the lab but not with the specifics of cytotechnology.
At some point most cytotechnologists choose to stop working on the bench, the laboratory term for cytotechnologist jobs that have the technologist working directly with specimens. Some will shift into teaching. Many will advance to an administrative role in the laboratory, using their experience and expertise to oversee the daily operations of an entire laboratory or a specific division therein.