Pathologists are medical doctors responsible for studying the causes and effects of diseases. These highly skilled physicians diagnose diseases in patients and research the impact of related treatments. Pathologists also research disease development and examine how cells, organs and physiological systems respond to illness.

Pathologists may work number of specialized areas, including:

  • Anatomical Pathology – examination of organs and bodies to diagnose disease
  • Clinical Pathology – laboratory analysis of tissue and fluids to diagnose disease
  • Forensic Pathology – examination of cadavers to determine the cause of death

Pathologists may also work in various settings, including: hospitals, private or public universities, medical centers and criminal investigation laboratories. These professionals should have expert knowledge of medical science, research tools and diagnostic practices. They should also be well-versed in the methodologies and technologies associated with their branch of pathology.

Degrees for Pathologists

An advanced education and highly specialized training are required to become a pathologist. These professionals must have an undergraduate degree and either a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) doctoral degree or Doctor of Medicine (MD) doctoral degree from an accredited educational institution. Pathologists are also required to complete an authorized pathology residency program.

Practicing pathologists must be licensed by the American Osteopathic Board of Pathology or the American Board of Pathology. Depending on their chosen field, pathologists may also participate in fellowship training on a clinical or anatomical subspecialty.

Pathologist Salary*

Physicians are well-compensated for their extensive training and advanced knowledge of medicine. According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians practicing in medical specialties such as pathology earned a median annual wage of $339,738.

The job outlook is considered excellent for physicians and surgeons, with 22 percent growth expected from 2008-2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects increased opportunities for physicians practicing in rural and medically underserved communities.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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