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How to Become a Medical Examiner

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How to Become a Medical Examiner

04,March 2024

After the death of a person, it becomes difficult to determine what could be the possible reason for his demise. This important yet difficult task of identifying the cause and manner of death of a person is done by the medical examiners. These are the experts who make it possible for crime investigators to know the time of death, the reason behind the demise, and how the person died. In cases where there is no witness to the crime, their task is of great help. These people conduct various medical tests on the deceased and examine the body. Here in this blog, we have given the details on how to become a medical examiner.

What is a Medical Examiner?

Those experts who implement their medical skills in the crime investigation are called medical examiners. These are the doctors who use methods like toxicology, DNA analysis, serology, etc. to examine the corpse and determine various important findings about the deceased. They conduct the autopsies, prepare the reports based on their findings, prepare the death certificate, review the medical histories, testify in court, and coordinate with law enforcement agencies.

How to Become a Medical Examiner?

Becoming a medical examiner is a long process and for this candidates need to rigorously make efforts for their career. The complete procedure of becoming a medical examiner is given below in a step-wise manner to facilitate the students. Candidates should not confuse these professionals with coroners and hence need to know the educational qualifications required by these experts. Their task is quite tough and hence requires full attention. To become such an expert you need to follow the given steps:

1. Complete Your Graduation:

The process of turning your dream into reality is the successful completion of your basic educational qualification. The candidates must pursue their bachelor’s in forensics course from a reputed institute. You can pursue a graduation course in any of the specializations of your choice. The bachelor’s degree is offered in regular, part-time, and distance modes, you can opt for any of the options available to you. To get admission in graduation in forensics, candidates need to fulfill the basic eligibility criteria as required by the institutes you wish to get admission to:

Eligibility Required:

Candidates must have passed class 10th and 12th with a science background from a recognized board with at least 50% aggregate marks.

Bachelor’s Subjects:

During your graduation, you will be studying subjects mentioned below along with others:

  • Anatomy,
  • Forensic Medicine,
  • Physiology,
  • Infectious diseases,
  • Toxicology,
  • Neuroscience,
  • Biology,
  • Chemistry, etc.

2. Enroll In Internship:

Once you are done with your graduation, now the next step toward your career is enrolling yourself in an internship. You need to work as an intern with a reputed organization to get a better understanding of your work and learn more about your profession. The job of a medical examiner is not about the theory you know, instead, it is a job where you implement your theoretical knowledge to practice. As these people examine the dead bodies by performing a range of tests they are required to be well-versed with practical knowledge about the subject as well. You can get training or internship at any reputed private or government hospital. Your training period will range from 12 months to 24 months depending on your preference.

3. Get A License:

Medical Examiner is a very responsible job and therefore you need to get a license for your practice from the concerned authorities. To get a license, candidates need to first pass their undergraduate course examinations followed by completion of an internship of 1 year duration from a National Medical Commission recognized hospital. After getting the license, now you can practice in any of the hospitals of your choice across India. Along with this you also need to keep one thing in mind you need to renew at regular intervals to continue practicing.

4. Complete Residency:

Once you are done with the task of getting a license from a recognized hospital, you can start practicing with any hospital. While practicing, consider working as a resident doctor as it will give you an advantage in the market full of medical examiners. To stand out in the crowd you need to have some special skills, so for this work as a resident doctor with any hospital. During the completion of your residency program, you can opt for practicing in pathology, toxicology, and forensic medicine as there is no program that completely focuses on a medical examiner career. Working as a resident will help you build an art of examining the body of the deceased and conduct autopsies with utmost accuracy.

5. Get A Master’s Degree:

To get higher salary packages and better opportunities, candidates can also opt to pursue a master’s degree in their respective courses. After the completion of the post-graduation course from a recognized institute you will be hired by well-known institutes from India across. To get admission to a master’s program candidates are required to fulfill the eligibility criteria as mentioned below:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Candidates must have passed class 10th and 12th in the science stream with at least 50% aggregate marks from a recognized board.
  • Students should have passed their undergraduate degree from a recognized university with at least 50% marks.

Skills Required To Become A Medical Examiner:

Apart from theoretical knowledge, gaining practical knowledge of your field is equally important in today’s era. Practical knowledge will impart specialized skills in an individual that are important for one’s growth. These skills help the candidates to work efficiently. Therefore, it becomes quite important for a candidate to learn these skills so that they do not lag in the crowd. Some of the most important skills required to be acquired by the candidates are:

1. Communication Skills: 

For such an expert who determines the cause of death of the deceased, it is important that they have good communication skills. It is because these people are required to communicate the cause of the demise to the family of the deceased that too sympathetically. Apart from interacting with the families these people also interact with the judges and hence should own the power of presenting their thoughts to the law enforcement agencies loud and clear. 

2. Critical Thinker: 

As a medical examiner, it’s your responsibility to analyze the deceased body in a manner that you leave no stone unturned. Your examination will determine the possible cause behind the death which is critical for investigation. While analyzing the reports and the corpse you should consider each and every finding either small or big. You need to have a brilliant analytical mind that can produce links between the suspects and the victims of the case.

3. Attentive: 

Your physical presence will not be enough for case solving therefore you need to be attentive to the case. The justice delivery will be based on the findings you make and present to the court. You need to pay attention to every piece of evidence that is connected to the case in any manner. On finding scars or wounds on the body, you should not be ignorant instead you should bring out the details about it so that it can help in further investigation of the case.

4. Be An Expert Evaluator: 

While conducting autopsies you should pay full attention to each organ, tissue, and bone of the body. In many cases, it has been observed that the death seems to be a suicide but on examination by the medical examiners, it has been determined that the death was due to internal injury caused because of sexual assault. Therefore, you should have the ability to evaluate the findings of the case with utmost accuracy.

Role and Responsibilities of a Medical Examiner:

The task of medical examiners is confined to off-site locations, i.e. you need not visit the crime scenes. Instead, you will be required to examine the bodies that will be brought to you by the coroners from the crime scenes. Being such an expert you will be required to fulfill the following responsibilities:

  • Dissecting bodies,
  • Removing and examining organs of the body,
  • Record findings after the examination of the body,
  • Take fluid samples from the deceased,
  • Supervise the attendant in taking the photos of the body,
  • Perform tests like X-rays and CT scans,
  • Examine the cause and time of death,
  • Communicate your findings about the deceased like the presence of injuries, etc. to law enforcement agencies and the victim’s family,
  • Conduct DNA and fingerprinting analysis,
  • Analyze the medical history of the deceased and their family,
  • Prepare the report based on the findings,
  • Prepare the death certificate,
  • Testify in the court.

If you wish to make your career in the field of forensics, you can also read, Is forensic science a good career?


  • https://www.indeed.com/ career-advice/career-development/ how-to-become-a-medical-examiner
  • https://www.pcom.edu/academics /programs-and-degrees/forensic -medicine/news/how-to-become-a- medical-examiner.html
  • https://www.forensicscolleges .com/careers/medical-examiner
  • https://www.rcpath.org/ profession/medical-examiners/ become-a-medical-examiner.html
  • https://collegeeducated.com /csi-careers/medical-examiner/
Who is a medical examiner?
A medical examiner is an expert who conducts an autopsy and analyzes the body of the deceased to determine the cause, manner, and time of death.
How medical examiner and a coroner different?
A medical examiner conducts the autopsy and examines the body while the coroner’s task is to carry the corpse from the crime scene to the laboratory of the hospital.
Is it compulsory for me to pursue a master’s to be a medical examiner?
No, it’s not at all mandatory for a candidate to pursue a master’s degree to be a medical examiner.
What is the minimum educational qualification required for a medical examiner?
The minimum educational qualification required for a medical examiner is to pursue a bachelor’s degree.