Forensic pathology is the branch of pathology which involves a detailed examination of the corpse in order the determine the cause of death. Forensic anthropologists and pathologists come up with evidence that not only helps to confirm the identity of the deceased, but also provides valuable insights on the cause of death. While it may seem to be a very exciting career, one must understand that besides having a sharp mind, one also needs to have the required educational qualifications to become a forensic pathologist.
Besides having an in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, those who wish to take up a career in forensics must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited medical school and training in anatomical pathology as well as sub-specialized training in this subspecialty of pathology. While medical programs generally last between 4 to 8 years, one would also need to undergo forensic training in college. After medical school, another criterion has to be met. This involves a paid pathology residency program at a hospital and certain written examinations.
To become a board-certified forensic pathologist, one has to pass exams administered by the American Board of pathology, during the fellowship after medical school. Forensic medicine offers several career opportunities, and can also be financially rewarding. If you are interested in pursuing this fascinating career, scroll down to learn about forensic pathologist salary and job description.
It is one thing to suspect a person of committing a crime, and another to prove him/her to be guilty of the crime. However, with the in-depth knowledge of anatomical pathology, a pathologist can certainly provide important information that may help in such criminal investigations. After performing an autopsy, he/she can shed light on various details that might be vital for the criminal investigation. The study of wounds, fluid and tissue samples, can help in determining whether the deceased died a natural death or not. The study of fluid or tissue samples can help in determining if the deceased was suffering from a medical condition.
Pathologists try to reconstruct the scene of crime and analyze the evidence such as the fingerprints, blood, bodily changes on the body of the victim. They work hand-in-hand with forensic anthropologists, who study the bone structure and skeletal remains, in cases where the body has been decomposed beyond recognition. Toxicology is another branch of medicine that deals with the study of toxins. Toxicologists determine if the cause of death could be linked to presence of toxins or drugs. Fingerprint and DNA analysis and several other aspects are looked into to determine the cause of death.
Forensic toxicologists, chemists and pathologists work on their respective areas of specialization. The latent print examiners work on fingerprint matching; toxicologists use their knowledge of forensic toxicology to study the body for any poisonous chemicals; pathologists determine the cause of death by examining the bodies of crime victims; forensic chemists study the soil, glass and drugs found at the crime scene and firearm and tool mark pathologists study weapons used in crime. Their combined knowledge helps to determine the time and cause of death.
Besides performing pathological tests, they also preserve the personal effects found on the body. Once the body has been completely examined, they document their findings on details such as the time, manner of death and the murder weapon, if any. Law enforcement officials greatly benefit from these findings when it comes to zeroing on the prime suspects. They also testify at hearings or court trials.
The average salary of a forensic pathologist ranges from $60,000 to $140,000 per year. Several factors could affect the salary. One's educational qualifications would certainly have a bearing on the salary one would draw. Those who have a board certification in forensic pathology, can certainly hope to get lucrative job offers. The overall career outlook can be influenced by a variety of factors. While education definitely impacts one's earning potential, higher positions that pay better, require years of work experience.
The local or federal government agencies, private companies that may work for law enforcement agencies, hospitals and universities usually recruit them. Geographical location may impact the salary. In fact, their salary may vary from state to state. When it comes to entry-level jobs, those who have been employed by a government agency may get a better salary than those who work in a hospital. As is the case with any other job, one should not expect to get great sums of money for entry-level jobs. However, as one would gain experience, one can expect to be paid more. Seniority or work experience does affect one's value in the job market. Those who have worked for about 5 years, can expect to earn more than $100,000 annually. Salary figures could exceed $200,000 if one has 10-15 years of experience. Those who have many years of experience might be asked for their expert opinion in high-profile cases. So, if you wish for a higher salary, work hard and gain experience.
Forensic pathology is undoubtedly a challenging career. Those of you who aspire to enter this fascinating world of forensics, must be ready to put in a lot of time and effort. Your dedication will surely pay in terms of money as well as satisfaction. Not only can you get a well-paying job, you can also do your bit for the society by helping law enforcement officials solve crimes and catch criminals.