Pathologists work in hospitals and laboratories on different areas of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Day-to-day tasks

Depending on your area, as a pathologist you could:

  • examine, explain and advice on the results of blood tests, smear tests and tissue removal
  • research and develop new tests and treatments
  • treat diseases and develop vaccines against diseases and conditions
  • organise work in laboratories and supervise staff
  • discuss the treatment of individual patients with other health professionals

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of medicine
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • knowledge of biology
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Industry Qualifications

You can take either a medical doctor route or clinical scientist route to become a pathologist.

Medical doctor route

To become a pathologist through the medical doctor route, you'll need to complete:

  • a degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council which takes 5 years
  • a foundation course of general training which takes 2 years
  • a specialist training programme in pathology which can take between 5 to 6 years

There's a lot of competition for places on medical degrees. Most universities will expect you to have done some paid or voluntary work experience in healthcare.

Clinical scientist route

To become a pathologist through the clinical scientist route, you'll need to complete:

  • a degree or master's in a science subject like biology, chemistry, clinical or biomedical science which takes 3 to 4 years
  • the Scientist Training Programme which is work based, takes 3 years and leads to a master's degree
  • the pathology speciality of the Higher Specialist Scientist Training Programme which takes 5 years

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