Medical Pathologist

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Medical pathologists, or clinical pathologists, are doctors who specialise in investigating the nature, causes and processes of disease. Using the tools of laboratory science they analyse samples of human tissue, blood and other fluids. They use their findings to help diagnose and treat illness in patients.

The Work

There are four most common specialities within pathology.

There are other fields of pathology that are smaller, but still important such as, immunity, genetics and reproduction, toxins and animal disease. There are actually 17 pathology specialties in total, offering a diverse range of career options. 

Only a very small number of pathologists specialise in forensic pathology, despite its high profile on TV. Usually, the specimens pathologists examine come from patients who are very much alive.

You could be:


As of April 2021, in most junior posts (Foundation Year 1) you would earn a basic salary of £28,114 a year, increasing to a basic of £34,969 a year in Foundation Year 2. In specialist training this can rise to £46,137 a year (depending on the length of training).

Training salaries increase between 20% and 50% with supplements, depending on the number of extra hours and intensity of work involved. A doctor in the new specialty doctor grade earns between £43,246 and £80,643 a year. A consultant's salary ranges from £87,534 to £116,313 a year.


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Getting In

To qualify as a pathologist you need a degree in medicine and surgery (SCQF Level 10) which is recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Other requirements:

After your degree you do a 2-year foundation training programme, which gives you registration with the GMC, which you need to work as a doctor (see 'Training' below). Most pathologists work for the National Health Service (NHS), but some forensic pathologists, particularly in England, work in independent practices.

What Does it Take?

You should be:

You should have:


Getting On

More Information

The job prospects for medical pathologists are very good. Not all pathologists need to be doctors. You can have a career in the field of pathology as a clinical or biomedical scientist. It is also possible to become a veterinary pathologist or oral pathologist. As with medical pathology you must first get your vet medicine or dentistry degree and then specialise in pathology.

If you want a taste of what it is like to be a doctor have a look at the Medic Insight programme. This is a week long programme aimed at fourth and fifth year pupils in Scotland who are interested in becoming doctors. It is run by Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee universities. See the university website for details.

For more information have a look at the You can be a Doctor website which will give you all sorts of information about how to get into medicine.


Courtesy of RCPA


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
Tel: 01423 534646
Twitter: @CharterForSci

General Medical Council (GMC)
Twitter: @gmcuk

NHS Scotland Careers
Website (2):
Twitter: @NHSScotCareers

Royal College of Pathologists
Tel: 020 7451 6700
Twitter: @RCPath

University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT)
Tel: 0161 855 7409
Twitter: @UCATofficial

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