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Anatomical pathology technician APT, mortuary technician, anatomical pathology technologist

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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need to complete a 2-year traineeship.

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

Experience of record keeping, dealing with legal issues or using manual skills might be useful.

You’ll observe experienced pathologists and technicians and study for the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Certificate in Anatomical Pathology Technology.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent communication skills
  • a strong stomach for dealing with disturbing sights and smells
  • a methodical approach to work
  • accuracy and attention to detail

3. What you'll do

During a post-mortem, you’ll be:

  • passing instruments like scalpels to pathologists
  • 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

After a post-mortem, you'll help to reconstruct and clean the body ready for storage or release to an undertaker. 

With experience, you might help forensic pathologists examine murder victims.

Your day-to-day duties could also 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
You'll work closely with doctors, the police, coroner's office staff and the relatives of those who have died.

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £17,000 (trainee)

Experienced: £22,000 to £28,500

Highly Experienced: £35,000 (mortuary manager)

There are additional payments for overtime and on-call duty.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, which may include shifts and on-call duties.

You'll be in a clinical setting. 

You'll need to wear protective clothing like rubber gloves, a theatre gown, visor and boots.

6. 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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Last updated: 18 August 2017