Health Career Center

Forensic Pathologists

Forensic pathologists, also known as medical examiners, are doctors who examine and conduct tests on corpses to determine cause of death. They're responsible for concluding how people died and whether it was natural or unnatural.

They determine cause of death by:
  • Reviewing medical histories
  • Examining evidence collected at crime scenes and reading witness statements
  • Completing autopsies
  • Analyzing blood and body fluids collected at crime scenes
Forensic pathologists often specialize in DNA technology, blood analysis, trace evidence, ballistics, and toxicology.

During domestic abuse and sexual assault cases, forensic pathologists examine cuts, bruises, and tears on living victims.

After evidence is examined, forensic pathologists write reports and frequently offer expert testimony in court.

Working Conditions
Forensic pathologists typically work as medical examiners for states, counties, and cities. They can also be found at medical schools, commercial laboratories, and federal government agencies.

Forensic pathologists often work 10-12 hour days, especially when they're required to travel to crime scenes.

They spend the majority of their days in laboratories examining biological specimens and conducting autopsies. Sometimes they're required to stand for hours at a time.

If they're not at a laboratory or crime scene, forensic pathologists can be found in offices preparing reports.

Working in forensic pathology can be emotionally draining, but satisfying as well, since they help solve crimes and bring closure to families.

Career Training and Education
Forensic pathologists are licensed medical doctors. After medical school, they're required to obtain 4-5 years of additional education in forensic, clinical, or anatomic pathology, followed by a one year residency. They're also required to pass a test to become board certified.
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Psychologists specialize in analyzing human behavior and brain function. They study all features of human experience, including child development, cognitive function, and human relationships. Psychology offers a wide array of career opportunities.

Salary: $30,000 - $78,654

Education: 4 - 8 Years (beyond high school)

Job Outlook: Excellent

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