Pediatric Forensic Pathology Education and Career Information

Sep 27, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to work as a forensic pathologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Pediatric forensic pathologists are required to have a degree, graduate from medical school, and complete their fellowship and residency in pathology. They also need to have a medical license. Forensic pathologists interested in specializing in determining the cause of death of children complete a fellowship in pediatric pathology to specialize in this field.

Essential Information

Forensic pathologists are physicians who attempt to determine the cause of an infant or child's death in unexpected or suspicious circumstances. They may work as medical examiners for county medical examiner's offices or private contracting companies. They often act as expert witnesses in court cases related to the autopsies they perform. Like all physicians, they must attend medical school and become licensed.

Required Education Bachelor's degree, medical school and medical licensing
Other Requirements Additional specialization
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% for physicians and surgeons
Median Salary (2019)** $102,902 annually for forensic pathologists

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

Education Information

Pediatric forensic pathology is a physician sub-specialty. The first step along the path for this career is getting a bachelor's degree with the coursework that fulfills admission eligibility requirements for medical school. The next step is completing four years of medical school and passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

Once a person's medical license is received, they can take the steps necessary for specialization. These steps include completing a residency program in anatomic pathology (AP), receiving board certification in AP, completing fellowships in forensic pathology and pediatric pathology and becoming board certified in those specialties.

Anatomic Pathology Residency Program

Anatomic pathology residency programs take three years to complete. The first year usually includes general training in different aspects of pathology, such as surgical pathology, autopsy, and cellular pathology. The second year involves rotations through the various pathology departments and specialties, with work on real cases and increasing levels of independence. The third year generally involves research or preparatory training for sub-specialization.

Anatomic Pathology Board Certification

The American Board of Pathology administers the board examinations for both general anatomic and clinical pathology. General AP specialty examination eligibility requires a valid medical license and completion of an accredited 3-year residency in anatomic pathology, or a 4-year residency program combining anatomic and clinical pathology.

Pathology Sub-specialty Fellowship Programs

Once a person has completed a residency and been successfully board-certified in anatomic pathology, he or she will be eligible for fellowship positions in both forensic pathology and pediatric pathology. It does not matter in what order the fellowships are completed. Both of the fellowships are year-long positions.

Forensic Pathology Fellowships

A forensic pathology fellowship involves completing hundreds of autopsies under the supervision of program faculty. Fellows also give testimony related to their autopsies and work with law enforcement investigators. Additional educational aspects include didactic lectures on both microscopic and gross pathology and case review conferences.

Pediatric Pathology Fellowships

Pediatric pathology fellowships focus on training in child and infant autopsies, and information and knowledge specific to the anatomic and clinical pathology of infants and children. These fellowships use the same training format of supervised clinical practice, lectures and conferences.

Pathology Sub-specialty Certification

The American Board of Pathology, one of the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties, provides certifications in certain sub-specialties of pathology. These include separate forensic pathology and pediatric pathology certifications. To be eligible for a sub-specialty certification examination, one must already be board certified in anatomic pathology and have completed a 12-month accredited fellowship in that sub-specialty.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projections for the decade from 2018 to 2028 showed jobs for physicians in general increasing faster than the average for all occupations. Based on reports in August of 2019, forensic pathologists earned a median annual salary of $102,902.

Pediatric forensic pathologists are highly trained medical doctors who must complete years of postsecondary education, as well as a residency and fellowship in their field. The job prospects for all physicians are expected to be much faster than average from 2018 to 2028, which means that those preparing to enter this field should have strong job prospects. In addition to completing their degrees, residency and fellowship, pediatric forensic pathologists must also be licensed medical doctors, and can also pursue certification in pathology.

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