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Forensic pathologist

Forensic pathology is the sub-specialty of pathology that focuses on medico-legal investigations of sudden or unexpected death.

A forensic pathologist is primarily involved in identifying causes of death and reconstructing the circumstances by which they occurred. A major component of the role involves performing autopsy investigations.

Forensic pathologists are required to visit crime scenes and accidents, provide expert evidence, and testify in courts.

Many forensic pathologists continue with their professional development, gaining further experience in specific areas of forensic pathology.


A prerequisite to becoming a forensic pathologist is a qualification as a medical practitioner (including internship). Following an internship you should train as a specialist in pathology and undertake further specialist training to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (FRCPA). The minimum time for specialist training is five years in a registrar position accredited by the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA).

Current registrars or trainees expecting to attain RCPA Fellowship (or the Diploma of Forensic Pathology) may also be considered for forensic pathology positions.


Job vacancies are advertised on the Smart Jobs website.

Become a Registrar with Queensland Health.

Queensland Health does not employ Coroners. Coroners are employed by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.


  • Performing coronial autopsies, preparing reports for the Coroner and testifying in court (travel may be required).
  • Attending death scenes to contribute to the investigation of the death.
  • Aiding in the identification and preservation and transportation of deceased persons and human remains.
  • Actively participating in the coronial death investigation team comprising the State Coroner, the police and other specialist agencies.
  • Adhering to defined service quality standards, health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Undertaking clinical audits and quality assurance to review and evaluate test results.
  • Contributing to the maintenance and development of autopsy and forensic technical procedures.
  • Collaborating with other forensic units (e.g. Forensic Toxicology).
  • Participating in on-call and duty rosters.
  • Supervising and training registrars and other forensic pathology trainees.
  • Participating in continuing education and research activities.

Pay and conditions

At Queensland Health the Medical Officers (Queensland Health) certified agreement applies to forensic pathologists.

Where can I find out more?

Last updated: 16 December 2019