How Do You Become a Forensic Pathologist?

How Do You Become a Forensic Pathologist?

Forensic pathologists are medical doctors with specialized training in the area of pathology or the ability to determine causes of death or other damage to the body. Becoming a pathologist requires a bachelor's degree, a medical degree, four to five years of clinical training in pathology and related areas, and a residency in forensic pathology. Certification is accomplished by an exam administered by the American Board of Pathology.

  1. Obtain a bachelor's degree

    Select a bachelor's program that meets the requirements for medical school entrance. Some colleges offer special pre-med programs or programs that cooperate with specific medical schools for entrance.

  2. Obtain a medical degree

    Both Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Osteopathy degrees are suitable precursors for pathology training. Most students spend four years in medical school.

  3. Complete additional clinical training in pathology

    Clinical training for pathology varies depending on the schools and other organizations involved. Typically a four- to five-year program includes clinical pathology, anatomical pathology, forensic pathology, neuropathology and toxicology.

  4. Complete a forensic pathology residency

    During the residency, the future pathologist practices forensic pathology under the supervision of fully trained pathologists. Responsibilities during the residency include completing autopsies and participating in death investigations with supervision.

  5. Take a certification exam

    Although not all forensic pathology positions require certification, being certified opens up more opportunities and ensures competency in the field. The American Board of Pathology oversees certification.