Medical Examiner Job Description [Updated for 2024]

medical examiner job description

In the realm of healthcare, the role of medical examiners has never been more critical.

As medical science progresses, the demand for skilled professionals who can accurately analyze, interpret, and report on postmortem examinations continues to grow.

But what’s really expected from a medical examiner?

Whether you are:

  • A job seeker striving to understand the true nature of this role,
  • A hiring manager crafting the profile of the ideal candidate,
  • Or simply fascinated by the intricacies of forensic pathology,

You’ve landed in the right spot.

Today, we are rolling out a customizable medical examiner job description template, designed for effortless posting on job boards or career sites.

Let’s delve right into it.

Medical Examiner Duties and Responsibilities

Medical Examiners play a crucial role in forensic investigations and public health.

They combine medical knowledge with investigative skills to determine the cause of death in sudden, unexpected, or suspicious circumstances.

Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Conducting autopsies to determine the cause of death
  • Collecting and examining bodily fluids, tissues and organ samples during autopsies
  • Documenting findings from autopsies, including written reports and photographic evidence
  • Attending crime scenes to examine bodies and gather information
  • Reviewing medical records and histories of deceased individuals
  • Testifying in court as an expert witness, explaining autopsy findings
  • Working with law enforcement officers and other professionals involved in forensic investigations
  • Providing death certificates and maintaining accurate death records
  • Providing consultation on public health matters, such as disease outbreaks


Medical Examiner Job Description Template

Job Brief

We are looking for a qualified and dedicated Medical Examiner to join our team.

The Medical Examiner’s responsibilities include determining the cause, manner, and circumstances of death by examining bodies, performing autopsies, evaluating medical histories, and analyzing laboratory findings.

Our ideal candidate has a strong background in forensic pathology, excellent analytical skills, and a profound sense of responsibility and attention to detail.



  • Perform autopsies and physical examinations to determine the cause of death
  • Collect and analyze medical and social history of deceased individuals
  • Conduct complex forensic investigations
  • Interpret laboratory findings and test results
  • Testify in court about findings and conclusions
  • Prepare detailed reports and documentation
  • Work collaboratively with other medical professionals and law enforcement agencies
  • Adhere to medical professional standards, laws and regulations
  • Maintain updated knowledge in the field of forensic pathology



  • Board certification in Forensic Pathology
  • Valid state medical license
  • Proven experience as a Medical Examiner or similar role
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Ability to handle stressful situations with professionalism
  • Detailed-oriented with high ethical standards and integrity



  • 401(k)
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Retirement plan
  • Paid time off
  • Professional development opportunities


Additional Information

  • Job Title: Medical Examiner
  • Work Environment: Medical facility and laboratory. Some field work may be required.
  • Reporting Structure: Reports to the Chief Medical Examiner.
  • Salary: Salary is based upon candidate experience and qualifications, as well as market and business considerations.
  • Pay Range: $200,000 minimum to $350,000 maximum
  • Location: [City, State] (specify the location)
  • Employment Type: Full-time
  • Equal Opportunity Statement: We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.
  • Application Instructions: Please submit your resume and a cover letter outlining your qualifications and experience to [email address or application portal].


What Does a Medical Examiner Do?

Medical Examiners, also known as forensic pathologists, are medical doctors who perform autopsies and other investigations to determine the cause and manner of death.

They work closely with law enforcement and legal teams, providing vital information about how, when, and possibly why a person died.

They may be called upon to testify in court about their findings.

Medical Examiners examine bodies externally and internally, collect medical and social histories of the deceased, and sometimes conduct scene investigations.

They may also collect tissue samples for further analysis.

Their work is crucial in criminal investigations, public health and safety, and in helping families find closure after a loss.

In addition to their investigative roles, Medical Examiners often have administrative duties, such as managing offices and staff, and working on budgets.

They may also need to interact with bereaved family members, and thus must have good interpersonal and communication skills.


Medical Examiner Qualifications and Skills

A competent Medical Examiner should have the skills and qualifications that align with your job description, such as:

  • Medical knowledge and expertise to perform autopsies, determine cause of death, and interpret toxicology results.
  • Attention to detail to ensure accurate collection and analysis of evidence, as well as thorough documentation of findings.
  • Strong communication skills to effectively liaise with law enforcement, attorneys, and family members, and to provide accurate and accessible testimony in court when required.
  • Interpersonal skills to interact sensitively with bereaved family members and effectively with colleagues and other professionals involved in the death investigation process.
  • Problem-solving skills to determine cause of death in complex cases and to address any challenges that arise during the examination process.
  • Physical stamina to perform lengthy and detailed examinations and autopsies.
  • Strong ethical principles to ensure the dignity and respect for deceased individuals and to uphold the integrity of the medical examination process.


Medical Examiner Experience Requirements

To become a medical examiner, candidates must complete an extensive education and experience pathway.

This begins with a Bachelor’s degree, typically in a relevant field such as biology or chemistry.

Following this, prospective medical examiners must graduate from medical school, which includes both theoretical education and practical clinical rotations.

This usually takes around four years to complete.

After medical school, candidates must complete a residency program, which usually lasts between 3 to 7 years.

This often involves specialized training in pathology, which is crucial for the role of a medical examiner.

Subsequently, some candidates also opt for a fellowship in forensic pathology, which is highly recommended for those who wish to work as medical examiners.

This training could last from 1 to 2 years.

Finally, to be fully qualified as a medical examiner, candidates must also pass the necessary certification examinations.

These include the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and board certification in forensic pathology.

Candidates with more than 5 years of post-residency experience are typically considered highly qualified for the role of a medical examiner.

These professionals will likely have dealt with a wide range of cases and scenarios in their career, making them well-equipped to handle the complexities of the job.

Those with over 10 years of experience may also have experience in managerial or supervisory roles, as their extensive experience often makes them suitable for leadership positions within the forensic pathology field.


Medical Examiner Education and Training Requirements

Medical Examiners, also known as forensic pathologists, typically require a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.

To start, an individual usually needs a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a science-related field such as biology, chemistry, or forensic science.

Following this, the individual must complete a four-year medical school program to obtain their MD.

After medical school, a residency in anatomic or clinical pathology must be completed, which usually takes about four to five years.

Subsequently, to specialize in forensic pathology, a one-year forensic pathology fellowship is required.

Upon completion of the fellowship, individuals must then pass the American Board of Pathology’s Forensic Pathology examination to become a board-certified Medical Examiner.

Continued education is also necessary to keep up with advances in medical and forensic technology, as well as to maintain board certification.

Work experience in a medical or forensic setting can also be beneficial for those pursuing this career.


Medical Examiner Salary Expectations

A Medical Examiner can expect to earn an average salary of $98,350 (USD) per year.

This salary can fluctuate based on factors such as location, years of experience in the field, and the specific employer.


Medical Examiner Job Description FAQs

What skills does a Medical Examiner need?

Medical Examiners require excellent medical knowledge, particularly in the fields of pathology and forensic science.

They need analytical skills to understand and interpret complex medical data and findings.

Attention to detail is also crucial for precise examinations and report writing.

Lastly, they should possess communication skills to effectively collaborate with law enforcement and explain findings to non-medical professionals.


Do Medical Examiners need a degree?

Yes, Medical Examiners require extensive education.

This includes a Bachelor’s degree, typically in pre-med or a related field, followed by a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.

After this, they must complete a residency in pathology, followed by a fellowship in forensic pathology.

Only after completing these steps can one become board-certified and eligible to work as a Medical Examiner.


What should you look for in a Medical Examiner’s resume?

Apart from the necessary education and certification, look for experience in pathology and forensic pathology.

Any experience in law enforcement or legal proceedings is also beneficial.

It’s also worth checking for any publications in scientific journals, as this indicates their contribution to the field.

Finally, look for soft skills like analytical thinking, communication, and attention to detail.


What qualities make a good Medical Examiner?

A good Medical Examiner should have strong analytical skills and an eye for detail to accurately interpret medical data and post-mortem findings.

They must be thorough, efficient, and able to work under pressure, often dealing with high caseloads and tight deadlines.

Good communication skills are also crucial for interacting with law enforcement, families, and court officials.

They must also maintain a high level of professional integrity and objectivity.


What are the daily duties of a Medical Examiner?

A Medical Examiner’s daily duties often include conducting autopsies to determine the cause and manner of death.

They also collect and analyze medical and forensic evidence, write detailed reports, and maintain records.

Additionally, they often confer with law enforcement and legal personnel, sometimes appearing in court as expert witnesses.

They may also be involved in death scene investigations.



And there you have it.

Today, we’ve shed light on the intricate, fascinating world of a medical examiner.

Surprise, surprise!

It’s not just about performing autopsies.

It’s about piecing together the story of someone’s final moments, one detail at a time.

With our trusty medical examiner job description template and real-world examples, you’re ready to step into this riveting field.

But why stop at the surface?

Go beyond with our job description generator. It’s your next step to meticulously crafted listings or shaping your resume to precision.

Always remember:

Every detail is a piece of the larger puzzle.

Let’s unravel these stories. Together.

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