10 Careers in Pathology: Including Skills and Salaries

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 10 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Pathology is a rewarding career that provides interesting opportunities to develop new treatments and benefit public health. Pathologists help support clinical settings and provide a thorough investigation of diseases to give doctors a better chance of treating and preventing further illness. Understanding what careers are available in the field of pathology can help you make more informed career choices and provide you with diverse career options. In this article, we discuss 10 different careers in pathology, including their skills, primary duties and national average salaries.

What are careers in pathology?

Careers in pathology all cover the basic practice of investigation, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Pathologists are instrumental to the further understanding of common diseases that impact everyday public health. Pathologists work with many medical personnel every day and while some may work closely with patients, others do not. They may only work in a laboratory setting or alongside doctors to determine the cause of illness. Here are some of a pathologist's daily responsibilities:

  • Collecting specimens from patients

  • Taking accounts of patient history

  • Analysing symptoms

  • Performing laboratory tests

  • Growing viruses

  • Testing treatments against viruses

In Australia, pathologists are medical doctors with at least 13 years of training. Other roles assisting pathologists may require less training.

Related: How to Become a Pathology Collector (With Steps and FAQs)

10 careers in pathology

Below is a list of the 10 careers in pathology with their primary duties and average salary:

1. Microbiologist

National average salary: $78,932 per year

Primary duties: Microbiologists are instrumental in the research and understanding of microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae and parasites. These professionals typically study how these microorganisms live and what environments they thrive in. They may do this by travelling to areas where the organism lives, taking a sample and growing it in a laboratory setting to further understand how they live and what can kill them. Microbiologists require expert knowledge of biological sciences that come from many years of study at bachelor's, master's and potentially doctorate levels.

Microbiologists possess many hard and soft skills that allow them to do their job. Their hard skills include mathematics or theory of microbiology and soft skills refer to extreme attention to detail, organisation and analytical skills.

2. Phlebotomist

National average salary: $60,387 per year

Primary duties: Phlebotomists work with nurses and doctors to take blood from patients. This career involves analysing blood for signs of illness or parasites. These professionals can work in a variety of settings, like hospitals, general medical practices (GPs) and research labs. They may also work on clinical research studies to administer vaccines or intravenous treatments.

Phlebotomists typically require a qualification in pathology collection or phlebotomy from a regulated body in Australia. This profession requires candidates to be confident with needles, blood, knowledge of proper specimen collection, basic anatomy and health and safety regulations.

Related: How to Become a Phlebotomist (With a Step-by-Step Guide)

3. Virologist

National average salary: $79,621 per year

Primary duties: A virologist is a type of microbiologist who specifically studies viruses that impact humans, animals and other living species. They study how viruses infect cells, replicate and mutate. These professionals perform important roles in maintaining public health and conducting vital research into vaccines and treatments of infectious diseases.

Virologists, like other scientific professionals, require years of extensive study at bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels. They're important professionals in pathology for examining the impact of viral disease on the body and advising public health officials of preventative measures.

4. Histopathologist

National average salary: $77,575 per year

Primary duties: Histopathologists examine tissues and the impact of disease and injury on the human body. They help other doctors and specialists understand the severity of the disease by taking tissue biopsies and working with pathologists. Histopathologists work with medical equipment that enables them to view and assess tissues closely. Histopathologists are a type of doctor and require a medical degree to practise.

This is obtained through rigorous study, internship and fellowship. Once they have completed this, they then specialise in histopathology. Histopathologists require intensive analytical skills and attention to detail to identify the disease and its impact on cells.

5. Neuropathologist

National average salary: $116,725 per year

Primary duties: Neuropathologists are important professionals who identify causes of death and assess neurological or muscular disease. They investigate any injury or illness affecting the brain, spinal cord, nervous system and muscular system to give doctors a better indication and understanding of diseases. They may conduct postmortem (after death) examinations of brains and send reports to other specialists.

Neuropathologists are specialist doctors and require extensive experience and qualifications. They have extreme attention to detail and require a steady hand to not damage any brain tissue. These professionals typically work in clinical settings like hospitals but can work in specialist facilities.

6. Medical lab technician

National average salary: $65,748 per year

Primary duties: Medical lab technicians help pathologists complete experiments and run analyses to determine the cause of illness or the type of bacteria, or they analyse data. They may prepare and use equipment with pathologists and record data for them to ensure accuracy. They can also review results from investigations to ensure reliability and replicability of results. Medical lab technicians can work in public health settings like hospitals or in private clinical facilities that create new medications or conduct medical trials.

Lab technicians can also work in the forensics industry or as part of medical investigation units to assess new viruses and threats to public health. Lab technicians require strong attention to detail to scrutinise results and ensure the accuracy of data. These professionals also require extensive medical knowledge and a collaborative mindset to work effectively with their team.

7. Forensic pathologist

National average salary: $98,649 per year

Primary duties: Forensic pathologists may work in partnership with criminal investigation units to determine the cause of death in a case. They conduct post-mortems and make calculated guesses on time and cause of death based on evidence from the body. Forensic pathologists may give evidence in a court of law and present evidence from their investigation of the body. These professionals can also work in non-criminal investigations where the cause of death is undetermined.

Forensic pathologists use comprehensive analysis skills to spot minute detail that may determine the cause of death. They also require a collaborative nature to work with police to conclude a cause as accurately as possible. A positive mindset and resilience may also be useful as forensic pathologists may confront some challenging scenes and cases daily. Typically, forensic pathologists require a medical degree and more years of specialist training to prepare for a career in forensics.

Related: How to Become a Forensic Pathologist (6 Step Guide)

8. Medical researcher

National average salary: $105,840 per year

Primary duties: Medical researchers work with pathologists to conduct investigations and cross-check results to help specialists come to reasonable conclusions and diagnoses. Medical researchers are instrumental in the development of new medical treatments and drugs by conducting extensive investigations and planning clinical trials. Medical researchers may report to a medical authority to help understanding and treatment of diseases, or they can work on behalf of academic institutions to present new data and trial treatments for diseases.

Medical researchers may benefit from a medical degree and previous laboratory experience. This helps to develop key critical thinking and analytical skills necessary for a career in medical research.

Related: How to Become a Clinical Researcher (With Typical Duties)

9. Veterinary pathologist

National average salary: $141,228 per year

Primary duties: Veterinary pathologists are specialised veterinarians who determine the symptoms and causes of diseases that impact animals. Through a thorough investigation, these professionals can determine new treatments and help prevent illness with vaccination or preventative treatments. They may conduct many tests on an animal's bodily fluids or perform internal examinations to give as accurate a diagnosis as they can. There are two types of veterinary pathologists, anatomical and clinical. Clinical pathologists assess blood and other fluids, while anatomical pathologists assess any impact on organs and internal tissues.

Veterinary pathologists require a veterinary degree to gain a comprehensive understanding of veterinary medicine and common animal illnesses. After extensive experience in the profession, they may then specialise in pathology and support veterinarians in diagnosis and treatment in veterinary clinics and hospitals. Veterinary pathologists require expertise in animal health and behaviour and require an intensive understanding of how to use behaviour to aid diagnosis, as this is more complicated in animals than in humans.

10. Haematologist

National average salary: $225,251 per year

Primary duties: Haematologists help pathologists analyse samples of blood and bone marrow. These professionals specialise in the identification of blood disorders and immune illnesses and help to diagnose and treat patients with these conditions. Haematologists may work in hospitals, while some work with blood banks to screen and authorise blood donations to ensure safety. Haematologists also lead investigations against illnesses found in blood to determine new treatments to target disease.

This profession requires a medical degree to gain a full understanding of how blood and bone marrow disorders impact the body. After specialisation, doctors can choose to specialise in haematology and support doctors in many clinical settings.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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