Now is the time to pursue a career in healthcare. To get started, enroll at the college, then complete a program application using the instructions on this page. Program applications are currently being accepted by email only. Admissions Specialists are available to help you by phone or by email. Call 704.330.6284 or 704.330.6958 to schedule your personal phone appointment.

What You Will Learn

Today, there are more jobs for cytotechnologists than educated people to fill those jobs; future long-term employment looks bright. The Cytotechnology Program at Central Piedmont is a full-time, 12-month post-baccalaureate certificate program that prepares you to use specialized equipment to study cells for detecting cancer, hormonal abnormalities, and other pathological disease processes. 

Cytotechnology is the microscopic study of cells that have been shed, scraped, or aspirated from body tissues. As a cytotechnologist, you will play an integral part in the total health care of patients — cytotechnologists are responsible for the first microscopic evaluation of the cytologic material, determining the presence or absence of abnormal or malignant cells and providing a preliminary diagnosis in cases that warrant further evaluation by a pathologist. As a result of cytologic findings, physicians are often able to diagnose and treat cancer before symptoms occur or before it can be detected by other methods. Cytotechnologists are highly skilled laboratory professionals who prepare samples obtained from various body areas for examination by using staining techniques which make the specimen more visible. Cytotechnologists must know basic human anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and have an in-depth knowledge of cell morphology in order to interpret varied cytology specimens accurately. You will be trained to recognize minute abnormalities in the color, size, and shape of cell structures. In addition, you will master various specialized techniques for collecting, preparing, and staining many types of cell samples. As a cytotechnologist, you must, at all times, be aware that each specimen represents a patient and that accuracy of the diagnostic report is essential.

Upon completion of the cytotechnology certificate, you will:

  • when given conventional and/or liquid-based cervicovaginal cellular samples, be able to microscopically identify and discriminate among the following entities: a. specimen adequacy b. cellular constituents within the negative for intraepithelial lesion or malignancy category c. non-neoplastic findings including cellular changes associated with infections, reactive and reparative changes associated with inflammation, effects of therapy, effects of mechanical devices and effects of DES exposure, glandular cells status post hysterectomy, and endometrial cells in a woman 40 years or older d. epithelial squamous abnormalities, including atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance, atypical squamous cells cannot exclude HSIL, low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, and squamous cell carcinoma e. glandular cell abnormalities including atypical endocervical cells, atypical endometrial cells, atypical glandular cells NOS, atypical endocervical cells favor neoplastic, atypical glandular cells favor neoplastic, endocervical adenocarcinoma in-situ, adenocarcinoma f. non-epithelial malignant neoplasms g. extra-uterine malignant neoplasms; you will also be able to evaluate gynecologic material with sufficient competence to meet the entry-level responsibility of issuing the final report for negative gynecologic specimens. 
  • when given cellular samples from any non-gynecologic cytology specimen, including fine needle aspirations, be able to microscopically identify and discriminate among the following entities: a. specimen adequacy b. cellular constituents within normal limits c. inflammatory cells d. microbiologic entities associated with cytomorphology e. manifestations of cellular degeneration f. benign cellular changes g. cellular manifestations of benign neoplasms h. cellular manifestations of malignant neoplasms i. cellular effects of radiation and chemotherapy j. altered cellular morphology due to collection methods; you will also be able to detect, select, and appropriately mark the cells most representative of the nature of any pathological process when given a cellular preparation
  • be able to explain quality control and quality assurance measures as required by current regulations (CLIA, CAP, JCAHO, HIPAA, and applicable state regulations) and be able to comply with laboratory safety measures and regulations

You will also be eligible to take an examination for certification given by the Board of Registry of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and will be able to find cytotechnology jobs in an unlimited choice of practice settings in hospitals, for-profit laboratories, clinics, and public health facilities. 

Students in this program may be exposed to blood-borne pathogens and infectious diseases through the provision of clinical services. It is for this reason that students are provided instruction on infectious diseases, mechanisms of disease transmission, and infection control procedures to reduce the risk of disease transmission, including those published by national public health agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information, please refer to our student OSHA hazardous communication standard (PDF) and student exposure classification bloodborne pathogens (PDF) forms.

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Why Choose Central Piedmont

Our cytotechnology program offers an exceptional educational experience by providing the high-quality didactic and clinical experiences needed to become a well-rounded, fully competent cytotechnologist. Our program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) of the American Medical Association, in collaboration with the Cytotechnology Programs Review Committee (CPRC) of the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC). For the past three academic years, 100% of our cytotechnology graduates passed their Board Certification on their first attempt and found employment upon graduation. You will also have the opportunity to participate in the Cytotechnology Student Association

Real World Education

At Central Piedmont, your education goes beyond what you learn in class. We offer numerous opportunities for you to enhance your learning — and to make friends, network, and pursue your passions — through clubs and organizations, sports, events and activities, leadership opportunities, job experience, volunteer experiences, visual and performing arts, and even international experiences.

Cancer has had a major impact on my life since I was young. It was only natural I wanted to help in that field. Central Piedmont checked all of my boxes in regards to accessibility, cost, reputation, and the structure of the program. If I can help just one individual have at least one more day with their loved ones, then it has all been worth it. Sarah Thurlow '19 Read Sarah's Story

The Details

  • Program Options

    Central Piedmont offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in cytotechnology. The college catalog details the cytotechnology program options currently available at Central Piedmont as well as program eligibility and course requirements.

    Corporate and Continuing Education

    Central Piedmont's Corporate and Continuing Education provides non-credit, non-degree courses and programs, including job skills, industry-focused career training, certificates, certifications, professional licensure, and personal enrichment. Day, evening, weekend, and online opportunities are available.

    College and Career Readiness

    If you are looking for programs to gain the knowledge or skills necessary to finish a high school degree or to get a job, visit Central Piedmont's College and Career Readiness.

    College Credit for High School Students

    Visit Career and College Promise to learn about opportunities for high school students to earn college credit at Central Piedmont.

  • Cytotechnology Program Requirements and Application

    Completion of an accredited bachelor’s degree with a concentration in the biological sciences is required for consideration to enter the cytotechnology program. The bachelor's degree must include 20 semester hours in biology, eight semester hours in chemistry, and three semester hours in mathematics. The program does not offer advanced placement, does not accept transfer credits, and does not allow completion of requirements through prior experiential learning. The certificate is completed in three semesters (one year). For detailed information on cytotechnology course and program requirements, visit the Central Piedmont Community College catalog.

    Please note that students in this field are at a higher risk than the general population for Hepatitis B. If admitted into the program, is to your advantage to start the vaccination process for Hepatitis B as soon as you learn of your acceptance. Medical history and documentation forms will be distributed at the orientation following acceptance. Any applicant who is aware that they are carriers of Hepatitis B or C or are HIV positive are required to advise the State Department of Human Resources regarding ability to have patient contact. Students accepted into this program will be required to read and sign a bloodborne pathogen Form and OSHA's hazard communication form at the mandatory orientation session for new students.

    All applicants are required to undergo a criminal background check and drug screen per clinical agency and healthcare system requirements. More information on how to complete these requirements will be provided upon acceptance. If you are refused access to clinical experiences because of a positive criminal background check or drug screen, you will be unable to complete the clinical component of the course. Inability to complete the clinical requirements will result in a failure to progress in the program. Under North Carolina law some people with criminal backgrounds may be eligible for an expunction to remove charges or convictions from their record. If you would like to know whether or not you are eligible, contact Central Piedmont's Single Stop at 704.330.2722, ext. 6435 or email to schedule a legal consultation. To learn more about expunctions, explore the NC Justice Center’s guide.

      Cytotechnology Program Application

      This program is competitive, admitting six students and two alternates each year. Students are ranked according to their cytotechnology application scores.

    • Locations

      Central Campus

      Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm where courses are available using Schedule Builder.

    • Course Delivery Methods


      Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm course delivery methods using Schedule Builder.

    • Cytotechnology Careers

      The need for qualified cytotechnologists is great throughout the country. Program graduates will be able to find cytotechnology jobs in an unlimited choice of practice settings: hospitals, for-profit laboratories, clinics, and public health facilities currently have positions available for qualified cytotechnologists.

      Upon completion of the cytotechnology certificate, you will be eligible to take an examination for certification given by the Board of Registry of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. An additional Specialist in Cytotechnology certification is available for persons with advanced degrees and/or experience. Individuals who pass this examination may use the designation SCT after their names. Visit Central Piedmont’s Career Coach or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for detailed cytotechnology career requirements and opportunities, salary information, and job openings.

    • Costs and Aid

      Central Piedmont provides real-world, affordable, hands-on education and career training. Learn how much it costs to attend Central Piedmont. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

      Cytotechnology Program Costs

      In addition to regular tuition and fees, there are laboratory fees assigned to courses with a lab/clinical component. Additional costs include textbooks, workbooks, medical fees for a physical exam, and drug screening and immunizations.

      Total estimated costs (PDF)

      Cytotechnology Scholarships

      In particular, students interested in the cytotechnology program should consider the following scholarships. Please note that many scholarships are managed by organizations outside of Central Piedmont.

    • Related Programs

    • Admitted Students: Find Your Faculty Advisor

      Students at Central Piedmont have a faculty advisor for each program of study offered. Find your faculty advisor based on your last name:

    Cytotechnology at Central Piedmont