Pathologists are doctors who diagnose disease by examining cells and tissue samples, and sometimes through performing autopsies.
Salary range: £27,689 to £74,661
How to become a pathologist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
To become a pathologist you’ll need a:
- 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 programme into medicine.
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.
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
- equivalent entry requirements
- university courses and entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- University Clinical Aptitude Test
- BioMedical Admissions Test
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.
- you’ll need to register with the General Medical Council
You can find out more about a career in pathology from The Royal College of Pathologists.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of medicine and dentistry
- knowledge of biology
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- analytical thinking skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- complex problem-solving skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties might include:
- examining the results of blood tests, smear tests and tissue removal
- explaining test results and giving advice on further medical assessments
- treating diseases and making sure blood transfusions are safe
- developing vaccines against infectious diseases and inherited conditions
- researching and developing new tests and treatments
- organising work in laboratories and supervising other laboratory staff
- attending meetings with other health professionals to discuss the treatment of individual patients
You could work in an NHS or private hospital or in a laboratory.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
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.