Employment Prospects


About 75 percent of pathologists work in community hospitals directing the activities of pathology laboratories. Most pathologists working in hospitals are responsible for the blood bank supplies. Many also perform laboratory services for physicians and medical clinics affiliated with the hospitals. In most hospitals, pathologists work in a team, sharing various duties. They may, however, specialize in different areas of clinical pathology.

As health care moves toward more outpatient and ambulatory care services, pathologists will have increasing opportunities to work in clinics, group practices, and private practice. Many independent laboratories require pathologists. A relatively small number of pathologists work for local, state, and federal governments as forensic pathologists assisting law enforcement agencies. The military services and government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, also employ pathologists.

Starting Out

There are no shortcuts to entering the medical profession. Requirements are an M.D. or D.O. degree, a licensing examination, a one- or two-year internship, and a minimum four- to five-year residency. Upon completing this program, which may take up to 15 years, pathologists are then ready to enter practice. They may choose to find employment at community hospitals, clinics, group practices, independent laboratories, or in private practice.

Advancement Prospects

After gaining enough experience, pathologists can become directors of a hospital pathology laboratory. With even more experience, they may advance to serving in a hospital's administration. A pathologist working in an academic capacity may advance to direct a medical school's pathology program. Some pathologists open independent pathology laboratories or join with other physicians to form private group practices. Because pathologists have broad medical perspectives, they often serve in leadership positions in medical schools, professional societies, and research organizations.

Tips for Entry

Join the American Society for Clinical Pathology,, which is free for students.

You will need to take the Medical College Admission Test to get into medical school. Learn more about the test by visiting

Learn more about medical school by visiting Association of American Medical Colleges' Web site,