Forensic Pathologist

Examine bodily fluids and tissues from dead bodies to help solve cases.

Quick Stats

Very Good

Salary Range
$35,000 – $95,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Forensic Pathologists do?

An unexpected death occurs. Is it a murder case? A common health problem? A new virus on the loose?

Those are the questions a Forensic Pathologist answers. As a Forensic Pathologist, you undertake an intensive study of those who have passed away unexpectedly.

Though you’re a crucial part of a crime scene investigation team, you rarely visit the scene where the death occurred. Instead, the sole focus of a Forensic Pathologist is on examining the body in a sterile laboratory setting. And although the word “crime” is often mentioned in your line of work, not all the cases you work on relate to foul play.

Two key components of the deceased person’s body hold the answers to their mysterious death: the tissue in the body and the remaining bodily fluids, like blood. You draw blood and other fluids, test the samples, and examine body tissue for signs of illness or injury. Once results from the tests return, you record the evidence and testify in court if necessary.

This job is similar to that of a Coroner or Medical Examiner, however you often focus on a more specialized area in the field and may spend your time in a lab testing bodily fluids while the Medical Examiner performs the actual autopsy.

Even if you don’t do autopsies, your job is a very important one. You provide vital clues for solving criminal cases, and identifying new virus outbreaks so they can be stopped before they cause greater harm.

Should I be a Forensic Pathologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.

  • How to become a Forensic Pathologist

    Most Forensic Pathologists have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:adaha9&chl=|certificate+%285%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2810%25%29||doctorate+%2885%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,85
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