Medical Examiner

Perform autopsies to determine a victim's cause of death.

Quick Stats

Very Good

Salary Range
$35,000 – $95,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Medical Examiners do?

Blood, guts, and dead bodies might be awesome around Halloween, but the rest of the time, you don’t really want to see them. Unfortunately, if you’re a Medical Examiner, those three are a pretty standard part of your job.

Like Coroners, Medical Examiners handle the bodies found at crime scenes. You get called in when a body is found under suspicious circumstances, like in the case of a violent death, suicide, or a contagious disease.

It’s your job to determine how the person died, which means performing an autopsy. In an autopsy, you look for clues as to what happened to the victim. You might check for evidence of drugs, alcohol, or other chemicals in their blood.

The ability to perform autopsies is the main thing that separates you from Coroners. Medical Examiners are required to be licensed Physicians, and many of them are Forensic Pathologists. A Forensic Pathologist is essentially a Doctor who specializes in determining causes of death.

During your autopsy, you might also be charged with identifying the victim. You do this through dental records, facial reconstruction, or DNA samples. Throughout the process, all the information you find needs to be carefully recorded.

Especially in the case of suspicious deaths, there’s often a police investigation or court case that follows your findings. Your autopsy report can be used as evidence, and you can be called as a witness, so it’s important that your findings be easy to understand.

The worst part of this job is notifying the victim’s families. When a body is found, you’re the one in charge of tracking down the family’s contact information, and passing on the personal effects found on the victim.

Should I be a Medical Examiner?

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

  • Also known as: Forensic Medical Examiner, MLI

    How to become a Medical Examiner

    Most Medical Examiners 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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