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Coroner Training Programs and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation necessary to become a coroner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about the training, job duties, and licensure to discover if this is the job for you.

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Coroners usually hold at least a bachelor's degree and are elected to their posts. Once elected, their job is to investigate the manner of death in potentially suspicious or wrongful cases. Coroners are also required to complete a training program and ongoing continuing education courses.

Essential Information

A coroner is typically an elected official with the responsibility of investigating possible suspicious and/or violent deaths. Upon election, coroners must undergo a training program, as well as continuing education requirements, during their term, including optional certificate programs. All coroners need at least a bachelor's degree, though some states may have additional requirements. A career as a coroner might appeal to individuals with interests in medical sciences, law enforcement or the legal system.

Required Education Bachelor's degree (background in law enforcement or medicine)
Other Requirements Elected in most states; training program upon election; continuing education courses during term
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (compliance officers)
Median Wage (2016)** $48,296

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

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Coroner Training Programs

Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Program

In most states and counties, after a coroner has been elected, he or she must complete a coroner training program. Several states use medicolegal death investigators training programs for basic coroner training, which usually requires 40 hours of training and can be completed in a single week in some locations. Topics covered in these programs include causes and manner of death, injury recognition, suicides, abuse recognition, crime scene investigations and death investigation laws.

Continued Education Coursework

As part of a continuous training system, many states and counties require coroners to participate in continued education coursework throughout their elected term. Some coroners choose to participate in conferences and courses run by the Federal Department of Criminal Justice, whereas others participate in courses run by the State Coroners' Education Board. Although workers can choose which courses they attend, participation in these programs is usually mandatory in order to keep coroners aware of legal and practical changes in the death investigations industry.

Death Investigators Certification

Coroners may also choose to become certified as death investigators. Completion of the basic coroner training program in most states prepares individuals to pursue certification with recognized organizations, such as the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, which provide basic registry certification and advanced board certification programs. Some states may require coroners to achieve certification during their elected term.

Prior to becoming certified, most organizations require death investigators to accrue multiple hours of field experience. Upon meeting eligibility requirements, applicants must pass examinations that cover such topics as investigating deaths, maintaining legal standards, cooperating with law enforcement and handling job-related stress. After passing the exam, workers must keep their certification active by participating in continued education coursework and meeting all other recertification requirements.

Coroner Education Requirements

Since coroners are elected officials, each state has different educational requirements. As such, some states require coroners to be licensed and practicing physicians, meaning that educational requirements include an undergraduate degree, a Doctor of Medicine degree and completion of a residency program. Other states prefer coroners to have a background in law enforcement, which implies that coroner candidates complete an undergraduate degree related to criminal justice. As reported by Payscale.com, the 2016 median salary for a coroner is $48,296 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that all compliance officers, including coroners, should have a projected job growth of 3%, which is slower than the national average, from 2014-2024.

Coroners usually have backgrounds in criminal justice, law enforcement or medicine. They are typically required to complete a training program in their state after their election to their position, as well as ongoing continuing education courses throughout their term. Optional certification as a death investigator is available for coroners.

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