Pathologist Job Description [Updated for 2024]

pathologist job description

In the realm of healthcare, the significance of pathologists has never been more pronounced.

As medical advancements continue to progress, the demand for skilled professionals who can analyze, diagnose, and steer our healthcare system grows stronger.

But let’s delve deeper: What’s truly expected from a pathologist?

Whether you are:

  • A job seeker attempting to understand the core of this role,
  • A hiring manager outlining the perfect candidate,
  • Or simply fascinated by the intricate workings of pathology,

You’re in the right place.

Today, we present a customizable pathologist job description template, designed for effortless posting on job boards or career websites.

Let’s dive right into it.

Pathologist Duties and Responsibilities

Pathologists are physicians who study the causes, effects, and processes of diseases and illnesses.

Their role is crucial in medical diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.

The duties and responsibilities of a pathologist often include:

  • Examine and interpret results of laboratory tests and procedures to diagnose diseases and illnesses
  • Perform autopsies to identify the cause of death and understand disease processes
  • Conduct microscopic examination of tissue samples, cells and body fluids
  • Provide expert consultation to other physicians and healthcare professionals
  • Monitor patient health through regular clinical laboratory testing
  • Collaborate with other pathologists and medical professionals to conduct research and improve diagnostic techniques
  • Supervise and direct the activities of lab technicians and other medical lab workers
  • Document findings, test results, and final diagnoses for medical records
  • Communicate findings to physicians, patients and families
  • Stay updated with latest developments in pathology and related fields


Pathologist Job Description Template

Job Brief

We are seeking a highly skilled, experienced, and licensed Pathologist to join our healthcare team.

The pathologist’s responsibilities include examining body fluids, tissues, and cells to identify potential infectious diseases, genetic disorders, or cause of death.

You will also interpret medical tests, prepare detailed reports, and communicate your findings to medical staff.

Our ideal candidate is highly organized, has a keen eye for detail, excellent communication and problem-solving skills, and a deep understanding of medical research methodologies and ethics.



  • Conduct microscopic examinations of specimens to determine the presence and extent of diseases, abnormalities, or injurious effects.
  • Interpret laboratory findings and test results to diagnose diseases.
  • Prepare and analyze samples like microscopic slides.
  • Consult with physicians about patient health and treatment plans.
  • Conduct autopsies to determine cause of death, if required.
  • Document all data and results accurately and completely to comply with regulations and prepare reports.
  • Stay current with the latest methods, techniques, and breakthroughs in pathology.
  • Train and supervise lab assistants, medical and clinical laboratory technicians or technologists, and other medical staff.



  • Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree and a completed pathology residency.
  • Board certification in pathology.
  • Several years of experience in pathology.
  • Proficiency with laboratory information systems (LIS) and electronic health record systems (EHR).
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving abilities.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Strong computer skills.



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


Additional Information

  • Job Title: Pathologist
  • Work Environment: Hospital or Clinic Laboratory setting. Some travel may be required for conferences or professional development opportunities.
  • Reporting Structure: Reports to the Chief of Pathology or Department Director.
  • Salary: Salary is based upon candidate experience and qualifications, as well as market and business considerations.
  • Pay Range: $190,000 minimum to $308,000 maximum
  • Location: [City, State] (specify the location or indicate if remote)
  • 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 Pathologist Do?

Pathologists are specialized doctors who work primarily in hospitals, private laboratories, and academic institutions.

They are responsible for studying and diagnosing diseases through the examination of organs, tissues, bodily fluids, and whole bodies (autopsies).

Their job primarily involves examining samples under a microscope to identify abnormalities that can lead to a diagnosis of a disease or other health conditions.

Pathologists also work closely with other doctors and healthcare workers, providing vital information needed for patient treatment.

They help determine the cause of a patient’s illness and the effect it has on the body, thereby directing the course of treatment.

In addition to diagnostics, pathologists may also be involved in laboratory management, teaching, and conducting research.

Their research often contributes to the development of new drugs and treatment methods.

Some pathologists may specialize in a specific area, such as forensic pathology, which involves determining the cause of death in individuals who died suddenly, unexpectedly, or violently.

Others may focus on areas like hematopathology, which involves the study of diseases that affect blood cells, blood-clotting mechanisms, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.


Pathologist Qualifications and Skills

A competent pathologist should have a set of skills and qualifications that help them perform their duties efficiently and accurately, such as:

  • Strong analytical skills to accurately diagnose diseases from specimens of body tissues and fluids.
  • Extensive medical knowledge to understand the progression of various diseases and medical conditions.
  • Detail-oriented approach to accurately observe and interpret laboratory results and microscopic investigations.
  • Excellent communication skills to effectively convey diagnostic findings and recommendations to other medical practitioners and sometimes to patients.
  • Strong problem-solving skills to devise suitable methods for diagnosing various diseases and medical conditions.
  • Interpersonal skills to work effectively with a team of lab technicians, medical practitioners, and sometimes directly with patients.
  • High-level of manual dexterity and coordination to handle delicate laboratory equipment and samples.
  • Patience and concentration to spend long hours examining samples under a microscope and interpreting complex results.
  • Ability to work under pressure, due to the critical nature of the role in diagnosing serious medical conditions and diseases.


Pathologist Experience Requirements

Pathologists usually begin their journey with a strong foundation in science, often through a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a related field.

The next step is attending medical school, which typically takes four years, followed by a three to four-year residency in pathology.

During medical school and residency, future pathologists gain extensive theoretical knowledge and practical experience in diagnosing diseases by examining body fluids, tissues, and cells.

After their residency, some pathologists choose to specialize further in a subfield such as forensic pathology, dermatopathology, or molecular pathology.

This requires a fellowship that typically lasts one to two years, during which the pathologist gains advanced, specialized experience.

Upon entering the workforce, pathologists may gain additional experience in various settings such as hospitals, independent laboratories, or research institutions.

This experience can involve a range of tasks, from conducting autopsies to supervising laboratory technologists.

Those with more than 5 years of experience may have developed their diagnostic skills and knowledge significantly, and could be ready for a more senior role such as a lead pathologist or a director of pathology.

Some pathologists also choose to go into research or teaching, which requires additional experience in these areas.

In summary, becoming a pathologist involves a long educational journey followed by gaining practical experience in a variety of settings.

This extensive training and experience prepare pathologists for the intricate and vital role they play in healthcare.


Pathologist Education and Training Requirements

Pathologists typically need an extensive education that starts with a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in Biology, Chemistry, or a related field.

Following this, the individual must attend medical school, which usually takes four years, and earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree.

After graduating from medical school, they need to complete a residency program, usually lasting 3 to 7 years, in pathology which provides practical experience and specialized training.

Next, they must obtain a license to practice medicine from the state in which they plan to work.

Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally require passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX).

Subspecialty certification, such as in forensic, medical, or clinical pathology, can be obtained through the American Board of Pathology.

This requires additional training and examinations.

It’s also important for Pathologists to engage in continuous learning to stay updated with the latest developments in pathology and medicine.

Optional additional training, such as fellowships in specialized areas of pathology, can further enhance a pathologist’s skills and career prospects.


Pathologist Salary Expectations

A Pathologist can expect to make an average of $207,803 (USD) per year.

The actual salary may vary depending on factors such as experience, education, geographical location, and the specific industry in which they work.


Pathologist Job Description FAQs

What skills does a pathologist need?

Pathologists should have strong analytical skills as they are required to examine cells, tissues, and body fluids to identify diseases.

They should also possess excellent attention to detail, as accurate diagnosis is crucial.

Additionally, they should have good interpersonal and communication skills to effectively collaborate with physicians and explain test results.


Do pathologists need a degree?

Yes, pathologists need to have a medical degree.

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, they must attend medical school and then complete a residency in pathology.

Some pathologists choose to further specialize in a particular area, which requires additional fellowship training.


What should you look for in a pathologist resume?

Firstly, ensure that the candidate is board-certified in pathology.

This indicates that they have successfully completed the required education and training and have passed the pathology board examination.

Other important points to look for include experience in pathology, specialization in a specific area of pathology, if any, and a strong knowledge base in medicine.


What qualities make a good pathologist?

A good pathologist is analytical, detail-oriented, and has excellent problem-solving abilities.

They must have a solid knowledge of laboratory procedures and be able to interpret test results accurately.

Good communication skills are also necessary as they often interact with other medical professionals and must be able to explain complex information in an understandable way.


What is the difference between a Pathologist and a Clinical Pathologist?

The main difference between a Pathologist and a Clinical Pathologist lies in their areas of expertise.

While a Pathologist typically analyzes tissues and cells to diagnose diseases, a Clinical Pathologist specializes in laboratory tests of body fluids, such as blood and urine, and uses these tests to diagnose and manage disease.


What are the daily duties of a pathologist?

Pathologists spend most of their day examining tissues, body fluids, and cells under a microscope to identify abnormalities that might indicate disease.

They also communicate with other physicians to discuss findings and interpret laboratory results.

Besides, they often supervise laboratory operations and staff, ensuring that all procedures are conducted correctly and safely.



And there you have it.

Today, we’ve dissected the precise role of what it means to be a pathologist.

And guess what?

It’s not just about examining tissues and cells.

It’s about piecing together the biological puzzles of the human body, one sample at a time.

With our comprehensive pathologist job description template and real-world examples, you’re fully equipped to chart your career path.

But why stop there?

Delve deeper with our job description generator. It’s your next step to creating meticulously detailed job listings or perfecting your CV to stand out.


Every diagnosis, every analysis, contributes to the overall health of a patient.

Let’s promote better healthcare. Together.

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