Pathology Scientist: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Mar 26, 2019

Pathology scientists are medical professionals who study body organs, tissues, or fluids to help diagnose or better understand specific diseases. Keep reading to explore the requirements and benefits of this profession.

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Career Definition for a Pathology Scientist

The diagnosis of disease by examining organs, tissues, fluids, or cells is called pathology. Pathology science embraces anatomical fields, including major organs, cells, nerves, skin, and blood as well as clinical fields like microbiology, molecular diagnostics, and toxicology. Other overlapping fields include chemistry, criminology, and surgery.

Education Bachelor's in biological sciences, M.D. or Ph.D. in pathology
Job Skills Problem solving, determination, persistence, ability to endure repetition
Median Salary (2017)* $82,090 (for medical scientists)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 13% (for medical scientists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Information

Like any medical specialty, pathology science requires a strong medical background as the basis for further study, generally requiring a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences, followed by a Ph.D. or an M.D. in a pathology specialty. Some pathology scientists with an M.D. do not become licensed physicians, preferring to apply their education to research, and others opt for both higher degrees. Many pathology scientists are expected to complete board certification in their chosen areas.

Required Skills

Natural curiosity and problem-solving skills are very useful for a pathology scientist, and success in the position will require determination, persistence and the ability to keep an open mind until all the evidence is in. Much of the work in pathology science involves routine lab-counter chores, and the ability to endure considerable repetition in pursuit of a longer-term goal will come in handy.

Employment Outlook and Career Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for medical scientists, a category which includes pathology scientists, will grow at an average rate of 13% between 2016 and 2026. The median annual salary given by the BLS for medical scientists was $82,090 in 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Other careers that are similar to pathology scientists include:


With at least a master's degree in a health field such as epidemiology, these professionals study the causes and patterns of human injury and disease, while attempting to reduce negative health situations. In May 2017, the BLS reported their annual median wages as $69,660 and predicted average employment growth of 9% from 2016-2026.


Microbiologists usually earn at least a bachelor's degree in microbiology or a similar field; those interested in research or work at a university must have a Ph.D. Their work involves studying viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae to better understand them and their interactions with their surroundings. An average rise in available positions of 8% was projected by the BLS for the 2016-2026 decade. That same source revealed a median annual salary of $69,960 for microbiologists in 2017.

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