During July 2013, the American Society for Cytotechnology and Wharton Marketing and Research conducted an online study of wages and employment among cytology professionals. A total of 319 responses were received, for an overall response rate of 43%. This is a relatively high response rate for association surveys, and the confidence intervals for the overall results had a margin of error +/- 4.9% at a 95% level of significance. While the survey included several cytology positions/titles, 45% of the respondents were staff cytotechnologists, rendering these the most reliable data points. Respondents were 78% female. Facility types were split between private labs and hospitals at 39% each.
Respondents are somewhat split by cohorts into one-third who have spent five or fewer years in their current facility, one-fourth each who have spent 6-10 years or 11-20 years, and the remainder spending more than 20 years. This pattern is very similar when compared to the last ASCT published report in 2009. Overall, years in the field show similar patterns for the two studies, with less than one-fourth reporting fewer than 10 years in the field, one quarter each 11-20 and 21-30 years, and almost one-third with more than 30 years.
As would be expected, directors and managers reported the highest levels of total experience in the field (mean average of 29 years). Staff cytotechnologists and cytotechnology program education Coordinators (17 years each) reported less experience in the field. Respondents anticipate remaining in the field for a mean average of 12 years and a median of 10 years before leaving for retirement or for some other employment-related reason. Half of those who expect to leave the field within the next 5 years will do so for retirement.
Overall, salary results are also comparable to the 2009 ASCT survey. Salary levels across all positions combined changed by a mean average of 3.07% and a median of 2.46%. Mean annualized salaries are highest for anatomic pathology managers ($88,155), cytology managers ($85,696), supervisory cytotechnologists ($81,728), and cytotechnology program directors ($79,504). Lower average salaries are reported for cytology specialist/lead cytotechnologists ($74,124), staff cytotechnologists ($67,450) and cytotechnology program education coordinators ($64,250). Salaries are also stratified by ASCT geographic region in the full report.
In response to changing screening strategies for cervical cancer, there is much discussion in the profession regarding what portion of time is spent screening as opposed to performing other duties. According to our survey, currently GYN screening is still the dominant duty for staff cytotechnologists, with an average of 58% of time spent on this function. Other duties and times reported are: 19% non-GYN and FNA screening, 10% assisting with FNA on-site preparation or providing onsite adequacy. Respondents report an average daily volume of a mean of 41 total slides (includes imaged and non-imaged slides). Molecular testing and other duties, including quality assurance/control, administration, HPV testing, clerical lab work, and preparation of materials comprise an average of 13% of the work performed.
The ASCT wage and employment survey continues to be a prime source of information in assessing the workplace practices and work force statistics for cytotechnologists. While we strive for consistency in the survey process, important questions are added as the need arises. The importance of monitoring trends in the workplace is heightened with rapidly changing guidelines and technology.
For additional data please visit the ASCT website (www.ASCT.com) where the full study is now available to ASCT members.