An autopsy technician is an assistant to the head pathologist or pathologist during examinations of the deceased. Standard daily tasks performed by autopsy technicians include caring for equipment like microscopes and tools, recording events and findings during examinations, assisting the pathologist with the preparation of the body, and delivering specimens--such as bodily fluids and tissue samples--to laboratories for analysis. For those with a love of science and interest in the inner workings of the human body, becoming an autopsy technician can be a rewarding experience.
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Research the position and determine if the job characteristics are right for you. The nature of an autopsy technician career isn’t for everyone, as you’ll be working with hazardous substances like bodily fluids and chemicals. You will also be dealing with deceased bodies that are often mutilated or in stages of decomposition. Before deciding if you’d like to continue with this career path, schedule a visit with the local coroner or pathologist to discuss the work environment, what takes place during a typical day, any training needed and any other questions.
Fulfil any education requirements. A bachelor of science degree with specialisation in biology is usually needed to become an autopsy technician, but educational requirements differ slightly depending on the state in which you’ll be working. The amount of experience you have in performing other related jobs also plays a factor in what may be required for the job. Access your state’s website, or the state in which you wish to work in, to view job requirements and more details. It is also important to remember that salaries also differ depending on location, and will most likely be higher in more populated areas.
Apply for an autopsy technician position. Many openings for autopsy technician positions usually occur in hospital morgues, pathologists' offices and forensics departments in universities. Because being an autopsy technician is classified as a government career, you can also look for openings on your state’s website. It’s best to make sure that you are familiar with the schedule, time off, holiday and vacation time of the job before applying.
Tips and warnings
- After researching the job, make a list of pros and cons to help in determining if you are right for this career.
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