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Anatomical pathology technician

Anatomical pathology technicians (APTs) help pathologists exam a body to work out the cause of death.

Annual Salary

£19,917 to £31,533

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; at short notice

Future employment

There will be 6% more Anatomical pathology technician jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

As part of your day-to-day duties you could:

  • make sure tools are clean and ready for use
  • keep accurate records
  • track property and samples taken from the deceased
  • work closely with other health professionals, funeral services staff and family members
  • help train other healthcare professionals

During an exam of a body, how much you'll help will depend on your experience.

You could:

  • take tissue samples
  • help remove organs
  • take samples for lab analysis
  • record the findings
  • help clean the body

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work at a mortuary.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through an apprenticeship or a trainee position.


You could do a mortuary technician advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information
Other routes

You'll need to complete a 2 year traineeship. Training and education in pathology combines learning on the job and in the classroom.

To begin with, you'll observe a pathologist in a mortuary to watch how it's done. Then you'll do some of the work yourself with the help of senior staff and pathologists.

You'll also attend classes for a level 3 diploma awarded by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH).

To become a trainee you'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs or equivalent at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science - usually biology
  • to be sensitive to the issues facing families dealing with the death of a loved one
  • an awareness and respect for different religious beliefs about death

More information

Career tips

You might find it easier to apply for trainee positions if you have experience of record keeping or dealing with legal issues.

Professional and industry bodies

Once you have your diploma, you can apply to join the Royal Society of Public Health and the Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming an anatomical pathology technician from Health Careers and the Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology.

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With experience, you could get a senior position and perform specialised techniques. You could work in specific areas such as forensic pathology.

You could also move into mortuary management.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • knowledge of biology
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work on your own
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • customer service skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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