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How to become a Pathologist

avg. starting salary

Looking for your perfect career path? How about a career in pathology? Pathologists specialise in the examination and analysis of body fluids and tissues, working alongside other medical professionals to help treat and prevent disease. They may be found working in a hospital, clinic or laboratory setting, and concentrate on a set field such as haematology (blood), histopathology (human tissue), virology (infection) and immunology (immune system), or work in a more general capacity. Some pathologists even work within mortuaries, helping forensic scientists determine the cause of death. Typical duties for a Pathologist could include:
  • Examining blood and tissue samples
  • Liaising with other medical specialists to provide a diagnosis
  • Recommending and administering treatment
  • Developing vaccines
  • Performing autopsies to understand (or confirm) cause of death
  • Ensuring equipment is kept clean and sterile
  • Dealing with legal documentation, and ensuring all medical waste is disposed of correctly

It takes more than a little curiosity and a keen interest in science to become a Pathologist. You’ll need to go through years of medical training, not including the time it takes to build your experience in the field. It certainly isn’t a career for those looking for something short-term. The key to your success will lie in your ability to spot patterns easily and efficiently – even if the answers don’t always come immediately to mind. Well, that and a strong constitution. If the idea of dealing with dead bodies on a day-to-day basis fills you with dread, this may not be the right role for you. Those who are easily made squeamish need not apply… Other key skills for a Pathologist include:
  • Good communication skills
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Excellent initiative
  • Confidence in your own instincts
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • A genuine concern for others wellbeing


Junior Doctor

Up to £28,000


Up to £69,000

Consultant Pathologist

Up to £101,000

"When I started out as a Junior Doctor, I’d never even considered pathology as something I’d specialise in. But as I progressed through my degree, I could see that I was more and more interested by it, and haematology in particular. It took quite a few years to train, but now I’m a fully-qualified Pathologist, it was all worth it. I love being able to use my skills to help decipher what’s wrong with a patient – especially when traditional methods of diagnosis have come back blank. And the pay is pretty great too. So I’d definitely say it was worth the blood, sweat and tears. Sorry, pathology humour..."

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