Cancer Registrars


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for all positions. High school studies should include sciences, specifically focusing on biology and health sciences, as well as classes in English, communications, and computer skills.

Postsecondary Education

Applicants with associate's or bachelor’s degrees are preferred in the hiring of cancer registrars. Postsecondary education should focus on data processing, medical terminology and coding, biology, physiology, and anatomy. Certification as a Certified Tumor Registrar requires an Associate's Degree.


The National Cancer Registrars Association provides accreditation for educational programs which prepare individuals to test for the Certified Tumor Registrar Certification and maintains a list of accredited programs at its Web site at

Among the programs are certificate and associate degree programs and several Web-based programs, including one sponsored by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Other Education Or Training

On the job training, as well as attendance at national and state conferences and conventions is the most common way to obtain continuing education and to stay current in the field.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements


While many candidates have received “on the job training,” the increased complexity of the cancer registry reporting system has increased the demand for credentialing. Although not mandated, job prospects are increased with certification as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR®), a nationally accepted certification, which is recommended for any candidate seeking to be employed as a cancer registrar. 

The exam leading to certification is administered by the National Cancer Registrars Association’s Council on Certification, which also is responsible for subsequent maintenance of the certification. Information regarding the test is available at

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Cancer registrars need to be proficient using computers. Experience with word processing, data entry, and data processing are necessary as is experience with electronic record keeping systems. Additionally, experience in the medical field and knowledge of medical terminology is critical in gathering and reporting necessary information. 

Employers seek candidates with excellent verbal and written communication skills. Cancer and tumor registrars must understand and be able to handle information confidentially.

The field is desirable for individuals who have the ability to work as part of a team, with researchers, medical providers, and administrators. Those who have a commitment to aiding in the search for prevention and cure of cancer may find a special connection to employment as a cancer or tumor registrar.