Forensic Autopsy Assistant: Schools & Programs

Read about the qualifications you need to become a forensic autopsy assistant. Get to know the topics covered during your training as a forensic autopsy assistant and learn about the schools and programs offering this. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Forensic autopsy assistants, also known as forensic pathology assistants, work with medical doctors specializing in autopsy and pathology, mostly as part of law enforcement. They are trained to gather, process and evaluate biological, chemical and microscopic evidence gathered from an autopsy to help to determine the way in which a person died.

They usually work for state medical examiner or coroner offices, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner or at private medical groups. Read further to see what you need to do to start out in this career.

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Forensic Autopsy Assistant?

Forensic science technicians, including forensic autopsy assistants, need at least a bachelor's degree in a natural science or in forensic science. For forensic autopsy assistants, a bachelor's degree in biology or biochemistry would be beneficial, but they should also attempt to take subjects related to forensic science.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for forensic science technicians is projected to grow by 17% between 2016 and 2026. However, they expect only 2,600 new jobs to be added over the 10-year period and predict that competition for these positions will be strong. Therefore, applicants with a master's degree in forensic science will have better opportunities.

Master's degree students who didn't specialize in forensic science at the bachelor's level may be expected to take some leveling courses in forensics, whereas master's students with a forensic science bachelor's degree may have to catch up on subjects such as biology and chemistry.

Which Topics Are Covered in Forensic Science Programs?

At both the bachelor's and master's level, forensic science programs cover topics such as human biological evidence, pathology, toxicology, death investigation and DNA analysis. Other subjects include forensic chemistry, biochemistry, crime scene investigation, bloodstain pattern analysis and trace evidence.

Some programs are situated in the medical facility of a university, whereas others are hosted by the criminal justice or biology department.

All the schools and programs mentioned below are accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

What Bachelor's Degree Programs Are Available for Qualifying as a Forensic Autopsy Assistant?

The following bachelor's degree programs all specialize in forensic science:

  • West Virginia University, in Morgantown, has a Bachelor of Science in Forensic and Investigative Science. The program's forensic biology track is geared towards preparing students for working in forensic labs as pathology assistants or DNA analysts.
  • The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program at the University of Tampa, Florida, offers internship opportunities at various law enforcement organizations, including the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner.
  • Fayetteville State University, in North Carolina, has a Bachelor of Science degree program in forensic science. The student to teacher ratio doesn't exceed 25:1, and at the senior level it is 10:1.

What Master's Degrees in Forensic Science Can I Choose From?

These master's degree programs can be taken after a bachelor's degree program in science or forensics:

  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a Master of Science in Forensic Science. The program is supported by, amongst others, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences' Birmingham laboratory and the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's Office.
  • Boston University's School of Medicine has an MS in Biomedical Forensic Sciences program, which includes a research project and requires a written thesis of publishable quality.
  • Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, offers a Master of Science in Forensic Science and claims that over 90% of their graduates get placements at forensic science laboratories and in research positions.

Do I Need Certification to Work as a Forensic Autopsy Assistant?

Certification is not necessary to start working as a forensic autopsy assistant. However, your job and career advancement prospects will be boosted by a membership in professional organizations such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the American Association of Pathologists' Assistants or the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Positions in the field of forensic science usually require a background check, which is the same as those for people working in law enforcement.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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