Career as a Coroner
Coroners work with their community to perform autopsies and medical examinations on deceased individuals. Although the educational requirements to become a coroner vary by state, most professionals must earn an advanced degree.
Coroner Job Description
The key job responsibility of a coroner or medical examiner is to determine the manner and cause of deaths, often by performing autopsies. During autopsies, coroners inspect the body of a deceased person to identify marks or other empirical evidence that indicates how he or she died.
Other specific job duties include visiting death scenes, identifying human remains, supervising the transportation of corpses, operating crime scene equipment, completing death certificates and notifying next of kin.
Necessary Skills for Coroner Career
Those looking to begin a career as a coroner should be able to work under stressful conditions and have a good eye for detail. Depending on the state and jurisdiction, the coroner may be an elected position. People interested in becoming coroners in these localities should be prepared to campaign politically for the office. In other states and counties, coroners are appointed.
Coroner Educational Requirements
Aspiring coroners can begin by obtaining a bachelor’s degree and taking relevant undergraduate coursework in subjects like biology, chemistry and forensics, in addition to law and the humanities.
It’s important for students to maintain high grades throughout a bachelor’s program in order to improve their chances of admission to graduate school. According to O*Net OnLine, about 85% of surveyed coroners in 2010 possessed a doctoral or other professional graduate degree ( www.onetonline.org ).
In many states and counties, coroners are considered medical examiners and must hold a Doctor of Medicine ( M.D. ). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( BLS ), those who choose to pursue an M.D. can expect to attend school for about four years after their undergraduate studies are completed ( www.bls.gov ). They’ll also need to participate in extensive internship and residency experiences that can last several more years.
Job Outlook for Coroners
O*Net OnLine reported that the employment outlook for compliance officers – a category that includes coroners – was very good, with the number of expected career openings predicted to grow at a faster-than-average pace from 2008 – 2018. As of 2010, the median salary for compliance officers was $58,720.