Full Guide On How To Become A Medical Examiner In 2023


Becoming a medical examiner is in high demand in 2023. Are you aware that nearly two people die every second? Would you like to join experts to solve puzzles surrounding unexpected death?

Then, relax and read through this full guide on becoming a medical examiner. This post will help you identify who medical examiners are, what they do, how much they earn and all you need to become one.

Every two minutes, people die, and one of these deaths, its cause is not known. So, medical examiners, also called coroners, conduct a detailed analysis of a deceased person to determine the exact time and reason for their death. Consequently, their services are in great demand, and getting certified as one is greatly beneficial.

Who is a Medical Examiner?

Actually, a medical examiner is one who is officially trained in pathology that investigates deaths that occur under unusual or suspicious circumstances to perform post-mortem examinations and, in some jurisdictions, to initiate inquests.

These professionals analyze people who have passed away to determine what caused a sudden and unexpected death as well as the manner of death.

In addition, a medical examiner creates and prepares reports on deceased people alongside issuing a death certificate.

Usually, they are expected to be physicians first, which is to say, finish medical school before earning more certifications. also to carry out their duties effectively, they are to work closely with law enforcement agencies

What do Medical Examiners do?

These professionals are medically trained forensic pathologists who are called to investigate all death that may affect the public.

So, when a medical examiner is informed about death with an unknown cause, he sets out to study the tissues organs, cells, and body fluids of the deceased.

Also, he evaluates the gathered data to determine the exact cause of death. Their services are required in violent crime and rape examinations because they are experts in DNA and blood analyses.

Furthermore, these professionals study trends, obtain data and compile reports following their past investigations in a society. Though the majority of their work is carried out in the laboratory, they may also go to the crime scene to collect information and testify in court following their report.

Where can I work as a Medical Examiner?

Medical examiners are specialists in pathology. However, you must be a trained physician before venture into this field.

Indeed, depending on your extra certifications and interest, you can work for various organizations. In hospitals, as a resident forensic pathologist, lab technician or consultant physician.

Also, you may work for law enforcement agencies as a private investigator or for NGOs that wage war against crimes like domestic violence and sexual assault.

Furthermore, your services may be required in medical schools, morgues, and government agencies.

Where do I get a degree to Become a Medical examiner?

To become a medical examiner, you must first be a physician. Firstly, you must complete medical school and earn your MD or DO.

Additionally, upon completion of medical school, you may get certifications from professional organizations set up specifically for medical examiners.

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These bodies include the National Association of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS).

Also, to advance or bolster your career, you may take extra courses in forensic psychology, biology, and chemistry concentration.

Furthermore, the medical degree may be obtained from accredited schools as traditional degrees or online degrees. However, here are top Universities to get a medical degree.

  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Duke University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Florida
  • Cornell University
  • Boston University
  • University of Georgia

Who is a Medical Examiner Assitant?

These assistants help perform autopsies and procure organs and tissue for analysis. However, they don’t work on the deceased.

They are employed by federal, state, and local government agencies to assist medical examiners in carrying out a post-mortem on dead people to determine the actual cause of death.

Also, these assistants are expected to be knowledgeable about forensic pathology, pathological anatomy, microscopy toxicology, and ballistics.

In addition, Technical writing skills and physical strength are also put into consideration during employment. Furthermore, medical examiner assistants are expected to get a license from a state board.

They are to be licensed by the American Board of Pathology and must have credentials in anatomic pathology or anatomic and clinical pathology.

Also, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this professional’s employment rate is expected to increase by 6% in 2022, which is slower than the average of all occupations. Their annual average take-home pay is about $36 915.

How much will I earn as a Medical Examiner?

Considering any career’s potential salary or take-home is important before deciding to tow the career path. There is no stipulated payroll for medical examiners.

Your salary is majorly influenced by your current employer, city, and qualifications, alongside years of experience.

However, according to Payscale, of 28 medical examiners who reported their pay, the estimated average salary is $72,414 annually.

Also, following recent job listings, medical examiners and their pay in different cities in the U.S is,

  • Virginia: $75, 387-$154,719
  • Georgia: $139, 230-$162,792
  • California: $ 185, 848-$261, 534
  • Las Vegas: $119, 870-$185,785
  • New York: $147,857
  • Texas $174,627

How do I become a Medical Examiner?

Becoming a medical examiner will mean a total acceptance of what they do, how they behave and how much they earn. So, you may have to scroll up to get answers and know if being a medical examiner is what you want to do.

Also, you must be ready to invest time, resources, and hard work towards achieving your dream. Then, consider the step to step guide and strictly adhere to them. You may need to understand the degree and certifications you need and where to get them.

If you need financial aid, you may seek scholarship opportunities for medical students and apply for sponsorship. In addition, you may decide to run an online degree program or a traditional degree.

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Furthermore, you must be patient as it takes longer to get through school. So, dedication, great communication skills, confidence, and strength is vital to scale through. Here is a step to step plan and guide toward becoming a medical examiner.

Step 1: Graduate high school

The first step to being a medical examiner is to put in a great effort and excel in your coursework in high school.

The basics of what you need to further must be learned and fully understood in high school, so you are not faced with challenges at the next level.

Pay attention to biology, chemistry, and other science classes.

Step 2: Enroll for an undergraduate degree.

Upon graduation from high school, the next step is to enroll for an undergraduate degree. It is essential to note that medical school is highly competitive. So, you must choose a pre-med track with a major in biology and chemistry.

Enrolling is not enough. You have to graduate from an accredited college or university with a grade point that satisfies the requirements for medical school.

Step 3: Graduate Medical School

This is a massive undertaking and a major step towards actualizing your dreams. So, you must take it seriously because it involves a highly competitive application process.

You must be prepared to submit a thorough transcript of all academic work, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and scores for the Medical College Admission Exam.

Furthermore, you must pay attention and take rigorous courses with all gladness. These courses will expose you to advanced anatomy, physiology, and microbiology alongside clinical practice and bedside manner.

Finally, complete your clinical rotations and take available courses on forensics and pathology to earn your MD or DO (Doctor of Osteopathy). This certification award will depend on the program you enrolled for.

Step 4: Get your Medical License ready

Upon graduation from medical school, you should sit for and pass your board exams as obtainable in your state of residence.

You will write these exams three times. One at the beginning of the second year, the last after final exams, and one year of residency.

Indeed, you must consider where you plan to live and work before applying for a license. This is because there may be different requirements for different cities. So, garner all required in your chosen state of residence, apply, and secure your license.

Step5: Complete Residency in Pathology

Although no residency program focuses on a medical examiner career, you should complete a residency in the pathology specialty.

Residencies that include autopsy and forensic pathology as part of the program should be enrolled for and completed. Truly, you cultivate patience as a virtue because residency will take you 3 years to complete.

Final Step: Get certifications from accredited organizations.

Indeed, if you get to this point, you are just one step away from starting a career as a medical examiner. However, following your residency or fellowship in anatomic or forensic pathology, apply to the American Board of Pathology or any other body certified to license physicians.

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You are ready to become a medical examiner, so apply to the organization and government agencies needing your services.

Mostly, medical examiners achieve employment through ab appointment by a chief medical examiner or a local society could nominate them.

Finally, remember to attend seminars, conferences, and symposiums to remain on top of trends in your field, seek more certification, and learn every day.

Academically, you are now a certified medical examiner. So, solving puzzles surrounding uncertain and unexpected death would be best to determine the exact cause and manner.

Is a Forensic Medical Examiner the same as a Medical Examiner?

Yes, a forensic medical examiner is the same as a medical examiner. He is also otherwise known as a forensic pathologist.

A forensic medical examiner is a medical doctor who performs autopsies on the bodies of deceased individuals to determine the cause and manner of death. Autopsy provides information on the cause of death.

Since a forensic medical examiner is the same as a medical examiner, it takes the same route to become them.

How Long Does it take to Become a Medical Examiner?

It takes about 4 years to become a forensic medical examiner.

To become a medical examiner, you must complete a prerequisite undergraduate coursework, medical school, a pathology residency, and a forensic pathology fellowship.

Therefore, how long does it take to become a medical examiner? Becoming a medical examiner takes about 12-14 years after high school.

According to Purdue University, becoming a Forensic pathologist requires a four-year bachelor’s degree, four years of medical school, a four-year residency program, and a year-long forensic pathology fellowship. These add up to 13 years of education and training.

Note that some places do not require professional medical training for forensic examiners. However, it requires a bachelor’s degree in a natural science field, completes a residency in forensic pathology, and a license to practice.



Every second, about two people pass away. So, following the trend and crime rate in our society today, people are demanding to know the exact cause of unexpected death.

Consequently, medical examiners are certified professionals trained to provide answers to this puzzle. It is enough pain to lose a friend, member or family or colleague. However, it is more depressing when you don’t know what caused their death.

Therefore, this guide provides all the details you need to begin this journey and join this team of professionals in investigating, compiling, and reporting death causes and manner to society.

So, at the end of this post, it will be clear why you should become a medical examiner. Also, it throws more light on what these professionals do and how they do it.

Furthermore, this article gives an insight into medical examiners’ average annual earnings/salary. It even suggests another option of being a medical examiner assistant if you don’t meet the requirements for a medical assistant.

Indeed, this full guide on how to become a medical examiner is for you if you enjoy helping people find answers to overwhelming questions that bother them. So, start your journey!


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