“Death Investigation Employment”

Amy G. submitted the following comment:

Hi, I am interested in the job of being a County Coroner…Its weird, but I have actually wanted to do this for a long time, my family thinks its weird, but I want to pursue this only I am not sure how to go about doing this, or what classes I need to take..I currently reside in Iowa, but in a year or so, I plan to relocate to Texas..Please give me any information that I would need to help me pursue this career, anything would be helpful, thank you, Amy


States vary with regard to how they provide medicolegal death investigations to the public. In short, some rely on a coroner system and some have a statewide medical examiner system. Others have a combination of the two with a coroner system in the rural areas and a medical examiner system in the urban areas—especially common in the larger states. If you are planning on relocating to Texas, I would recommend moving to a large urban area. Naturally, more people means more deaths which means more employment opportunities.

Death investigators come from a variety of backgrounds. The majority have some past experience with exposure to trauma. Examples would be paramedics or anyone with corpsman or medic experience from the military. Working as an autopsy technician or in the funeral business is also good exposure. The problem is that an autopsy technician job is hard to come by and the funeral business is much more lucrative.

Degrees are certainly helpful, but access to coursework in this field is limited in most parts of the country. Most universities have a criminal justice program but only a few of those offer classes that are specific to the field of forensics. Of those, the majority are focused on lab based forensics—toxicology, serology, DNA, etc. It’s “easier? to find work in those areas simply because there are more chemists than there are death investigators.

If you live close to a coroner or medical examiner’s office, you can offer your time as an intern, but you’ll need something on your resume to distinguish yourself from the CSI wannabes. Simply calling your local office and expressing an interest isn’t going to get you past the front desk. It’ll take enrollment in specialized classes or attendance at conferences to separate you from those with morbid curiosity.

As for your family, they’ll either adjust or they won’t. My family thought it was weird too at first, but they’ve relaxed considerably now that they see how much I enjoy what I do. You should find that you get more satisfaction from this job than they do from their jobs.

Hope that helps and good luck to you.


3 Responses to ““Death Investigation Employment””

  1. March 18, 2005 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been interested in going into the medical examiner field and was wondering how to get into it, myself. 🙂 Good luck if you get into that. I’m going to blogmark ya.

  2. June 16, 2005 at 10:43 pm

    I have one more year to go before I graduate from Mortuary Science College. I also have previous experience as a police officer, many moons ago. I was a field investigator for the ME’s office at that time for our Department. (That’s how they did it then.) Anyway, I am also going to take the new medicolegal death investigation training available this year, and attend as many seminars of various topics in this area as possible, to prepare myself to work for a coroner’s office as an investigator, in addition to trade embalming with my degree. Please advise if you think I am doing what is necessary to prepare for this, and if not what else I should do. Thanks, and I love your site!


    That sounds great. I also like the idea of having police officers that can perform as death investigators. There are certain situations in which that would be a very handy resource. Much easier than talking an officer through the process over the phone like I sometimes do now. About the only thing I would add to your plan would be for you to contact your local office, let them now you are pursuing coursework in death investigation, and see if it would be possible to study with them as an unpaid intern. It lets them know you are serious, will give you some much needed face time, and shows them you can handle the work. All three of these will help set you apart from the pack when pursuing any future openings.

    Good luck to you.

    A Douglas

  3. 3 Maureen Santamaria
    April 4, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Found your site today as I tried to pursue information on ‘Forensic Autopsy Technician’ involving education required and position availability. I’ve been an RN for 30 years and this aspect of medicine has always intriqued me. Early in my VA career, they would call me down to autopsies to observe, because they knew I was so interested. I’m seriously considering this career detour. I haven’t found any concrete guidelines for educational guidelines in my research. Any advice? Thank you!

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