Anatomical pathology technician

APT, mortuary technician, anatomical pathology technologist

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Anatomical pathology technicians (APTs) help pathologists carry out post-mortems in mortuaries.

Salary range: £19,737 to £24,157

How to become an anatomical pathology technician

You can get into this job through:

  • applying for a trainee position

Other routes

You’ll need to complete a 2-year traineeship. Training and education in anatomical pathology combines academic learning with work-based learning.

At first you’ll be based in a mortuary and start your training with a short period observing the wide range of mortuary procedures.

This is followed by working under the supervision of senior staff and pathologists. You’ll also attend teaching sessions on a level 3 diploma course awarded by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH).

To become a trainee you’ll usually need:

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

More information

Career tips

Experience of record keeping or dealing with legal issues might be useful.

Professional and industry bodies

Once you have completed the diploma, including practical assessments and a written exam, you can apply for Associate Membership of the Royal Society of Public Health.

You can also join the Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology (AAPT), which represents and promotes the profession.

Further information

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

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

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 accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work on your own
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • making sure instruments are clean, sterile and ready for use
  • receiving bodies into the mortuary
  • placing the deceased into cold storage units
  • keeping accurate records
  • tracking property and samples of the deceased

During a post-mortem, you’ll be:

  • taking tissue samples
  • weighing organs as they’re removed from a body
  • taking samples for lab analysis
  • recording the findings of a post-mortem exam
  • helping to reconstruct and clean the body ready for storage or release to an undertaker

Working environment

You could work at a mortuary.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience and relevant qualifications, you could train other health professionals and move into more advanced technical work or management.

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