Forensic pathology is a challenging, detail-oriented career that combines the fields of medicine and science. In this job, you provide services to help a coroner or police investigators establish facts around a human death. You deal with deaths that are sudden, violent, unexpected or otherwise suspicious.
A forensic pathologist collects samples, does lab work and conducts medical history research to help with death investigations. You’re responsible for confirming the identity of a corpse. At the request of a coroner or medical examiner, you’ll perform an autopsy.
The career takes long years of intensive education and training. It is not for the unmotivated or less-driven. If you truly desire a great career that provides you with limitless opportunities and a fantastic salary, you can go to college to start training to be a forensic pathologist.
On any given day, a job in forensic pathology may involve confirming the identity of a corpse or performing a human autopsy and collecting related evidence to determine the cause of death. During the autopsy, a forensic pathologist will determine if the death was due to a homicide, suicide, accident or if the cause is undetermined.
A forensic pathologist will be required to collect trace evidence such as gunpowder residue, to document wounds and injuries, to run toxicology tests, to collect and analyze tissue and fluid samples, and more. You will search for evidence of sexual or physical assault, including genetic evidence of the people involved, as part of post-mortem medical and forensic examinations.
Often, the forensic pathologist is required to serve as an expert witness in civil and criminal trials. Your evidence about the cause of death and how much certainty exists may be crucial. Allegations of murder or manslaughter may be proven beyond a reasonable doubt based on your carefully documented evidence and analysis.
Education and training for forensic pathologists
Becoming a forensic pathologist requires that you be a M.D. combined with licensure as an anatomical pathologist with a sub-specialty in forensic pathology. The total education and training for this career takes around 13 years to complete.
The first step is to complete an undergraduate degree in a medical or science concentration. This period of training takes around 4 years and will result in a bachelor’s degree. It is possible to earn this degree through either a traditional or online university.
The next step in the process is to get accepted to medical school and to earn an M.D. degree. This part of the education takes another 4 years of study including a large amount of hands-on clinical practice. Because of the hands-on nature of this part of the training, it is not possible to complete this through online courses alone.
After completing medical school, you will then need to complete 4 years of residency in anatomical and clinical pathology as well as an additional year in forensic pathology. You will also be required to pass board exams in both forensic and anatomical pathology before you can start working in this career.
After completing your training and receiving licensure, you can start working in this great new career. This is a growing career field that will be necessary as long as there are people in the world. Forensic pathology provides a challenging and rewarding work environment and an excellent salary that can reach as much as $272,000 a year for an experienced pathologist. If this sounds like the career for you, find a great school and start your training as soon as possible!