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

Annual Salary

£39,467 to £110,683

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

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on a rota

Day to day tasks

As part of your day-to-day duties, you might:

  • examine the results of blood tests, smear tests and tissue removal
  • explain test results and give advice on further medical assessments
  • treat diseases and make sure blood transfusions are safe
  • develop vaccines against infectious diseases and inherited conditions
  • research and develop new tests and treatments
  • organise work in laboratories and supervise other laboratory staff
  • attend meetings with other health professionals to discuss the treatment of individual patients

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in an NHS or private hospital or in a laboratory.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

There are 2 main routes to become a pathologist:

  • medical doctor route
  • clinical scientist route

For the medical doctor route you'll need to do:

  • 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
  • 2-year general training foundation course
  • 5 or 6-year specialist training programme in pathology

If you do not have qualifications in science, you may be able to take a 6-year degree course in medicine, which includes a 1-year pre-medical or foundation year.

If you already have a degree in a science subject, minimum grade upper second class, you could take a fast-track 4-year graduate entry to medicine programme.

When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). They test the skills you'll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.

There's a lot of competition for places on medical degrees. Most university admissions departments will expect you to have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.

For the clinical scientist route you'll need:3 or 4 years for a degree or master's in a pure or applied science subject like biology, chemistry, clinical or biomedical science; a 3 year, work-based Scientist Training Programme leading to a master's degree; 5 year Higher Specialist Scientist Training following the pathology specialty

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
For more information
Other routes

To become a veterinary pathologist, you'll need to train as a vet. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has more information about becoming a vet.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about a career in pathology from the Royal College of Pathologists.

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With experience, you may go on to lead a team or manage a department.

With experience and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.

You could also progress to teaching and training students, trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • 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
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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