Do you find yourself intrigued by the human body, while your friends are squeamish? Do you love all things scientific and medical, have an aptitude for research, and can’t put down a good murder mystery? If this is you, a career as an autopsy technician could be something you find rewarding.
As an autopsy technician, you will assist in the examination of deceased persons.
The autopsy will be headed by a pathologist, or medical examiner.
Your role is primarily to find out the cause of death, you will also look for things like drugs or alcohol in the system, signs of violence or a struggle, or any other unusual elements.
In the case of a suspicious death, it will be your role to gather evidence that may point to the cause of death, as well an any persons involved.
Education Requirements to Become an Autopsy Technician
To become an autopsy technician, you will need to have an undergraduate college degree.
You major will need to be in science, preferably biology.
A background in criminal justice can be helpful.
Other than a science degree, there are not any formal requirements to gain entry into this field, however there are things you can do to help you in your search for employment.
Enrolling in a college that is strong in science is important.
You will also want to make sure that they have a forensic science department.
Even though these courses will only make up a part of your degree at college, it’s still good to know that you will be able to complete lab work.
Working with forensic scientists will be an educational, as well as inspirational, experience for you.
If you can, try and get some practical work experience.
While it may be difficult to get work experience at a morgue, you may be able to complete internships over your summer.
If not, look for a science based internship, or something within law enforcement.
Autopsy Technician Job Description
Most of an autopsy technician’s work takes place in a laboratory or morgue.
These are sterile environments, and much care must be taken to keep things this way.
You will be working with hazardous chemicals, as well as body fluids, so safety is important.
By now, you probably already know that you need a strong stomach to work as an autopsy technician.
Here are some of the tasks you might find yourself completing while working as an autopsy technician.
- Preparing a body to be examined
- Assisting with an autopsy
- Recording events from the autopsy for the pathologist
- Collecting specimens
- Delivering samples to a laboratory
- Care of laboratory tools and equipment
- Cleaning the morgue or laboratory
- Releasing a body to a funeral home or relatives
- Seeing that requests of the deceased, such as organ donation, are met
An autopsy technician is an integral part of law enforcement, If you have an interest in criminal justice, then you will find this role rewarding.
Knowing that you can the assist course of justice, as well as preventing future crimes from happening, is very satisfying indeed.
Autopsy Technician Salary and Career Path
An autopsy technician is most likely to be employed in a hospital or morgue, however they may also find employment at funeral homes, or within law enforcement.
As your experience and skills grow, you will find yourself taking on more responsibilities as part of the autopsy process.
Some become pathologists, move into hospital administration, or become teachers, or researchers within the field.
The median salary for an autopsy technician is $40,000 a year.
A starting salary would be around $35,000 a year.
Job opportunities are good, and employment is secure once you have academic qualification behind you.
Working as an autopsy technician can be a very rewarding career path, especially if you love science and medicine.
It’s challenging work, both mentally and physically.
You’ll need to have a good eye for detail, patience, as well as strong academic ability.
Another advantage of a role as an autopsy assistant is that there is always room for further learning and improvement in your career.
If you enjoy study, you might move on to complete a master’s or doctorate program.
Working as an autopsy technician brings many benefits, both a challenging job, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a contribution to your community, by being a part of criminal justice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does an autopsy technician do?
Forensic autopsy technicians assist the forensic pathologist during an autopsy.
However, this is only a small part of their job and their duties include many other pre and post autopsy procedures.
Forensic autopsy technicians are also responsible for preparing the room, equipment, body, and paperwork before the actual autopsy begins; they weigh samples and organs during the autopsy and also take notes.
They also clean up afterward and organize the transfer of the body to the funeral home.
As an autopsy technician, you will perform tests and examinations required to determine the cause of death in criminal cases and you will also assist other professionals in collecting evidence at crime scenes.
To be able to do this job, you need good speaking skills and compassion in your interactions with the family members given the fact that you are responsible for processing the body.
If you have an interest in the human anatomy and causes of death, in forensic and lab practices, then this is the job for you.
How much does an autopsy technician make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as an autopsy technician, you will get paid somewhere between $33,880 and $95,600 a year.
There is this large difference in pay because there are many factors that affect wages: experience, training, location, employer.
How much does it cost to become an autopsy technician?
Autopsy technicians need a bachelor’s degree program in biology, chemistry or forensic science.
Tuition costs vary widely depending on the school and the program you choose but, on average, you can expect a cost of $40,000 a year.
What is the demand for autopsy technicians?
As a forensic autopsy technician, you belong to the category of forensic science technicians, according to the BLS.
You can expect an employment growth of 17% between 2018 and 2028, more than the average rate for all occupations.
As forensic science is rapidly advancing and forensic data is more reliable and increasingly used as evidence in trials, the demand for forensic scientists and autopsy technicians is expected to grow.
How long does it take to become an autopsy technician?
Usually, you need a bachelor of science to be able to work as an autopsy technician.
Any area of specialization that has a connection with your future career is useful, like biology, chemistry, forensic science or mortuary science.
Undergraduate programs in this field usually take four years to complete.
With your degree, you can look for a job at a hospital or medical examiner’s office.
Although certification is not a requirement, if you want to improve your career choices you may opt to try to obtain a credential from the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI).
For this certificate, you need at least 640 hours of experience in death investigations.
A master of science in forensic science may help you advance in your career.