Anatomical pathology technician

An anatomical pathology technician supports specialist doctors during post-mortem examinations.

What does an anatomical pathology technician do?

An anatomical pathology technician (APT) will mainly work in a mortuary, assisting pathologists in carrying out post-mortems. During a post-mortem, an APT will:

  • pass instruments such as scalpels to pathologists
  • take tissue samples
  • weigh the organs as they are removed from a body
  • take samples for lab analysis
  • record the findings of a post-mortem exam.

After a post-mortem, an APT will help to reconstruct and clean the body ready for storage or release to an undertaker. With experience, this role might help forensic pathologists to examine murder victims.

An APT will also be responsible for the day-to-day running of the mortuary service, where they might:

  • make sure instruments are clean, sterile and ready for use
  • receive bodies into the mortuary at short notice
  • place the deceased into cold storage units
  • keep accurate records required by law
  • track property and samples of the deceased.

APTs work closely with doctors, the police, coroner's office staff and the relatives of those who have died. ​

What do I need to do to become an anatomical pathology technician?

To train as an anatomical pathology technician, you would normally need five GCSEs (A-C) including English, maths and a science (preferably biology).

Specific anatomical pathology training is undertaken in the workplace, so the Level 3 and 4 diplomas are only suitable for people already in employment as a trainee anatomical pathology technician.

You should also be sensitive to issues for families dealing with bereavement and have an awareness and respect for different religious beliefs surrounding death.

It could be an advantage if you have previous work experience of record keeping, dealing with legal issues and using practical manual skills.

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication

Academic route

  • Five GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and a science (preferably biology)

Related subjects

  • Biology

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

For post-mortem work, you'll be based in a clinical setting. You'll need to wear protective clothing, such as rubber gloves, a theatre gown, visor and boots.​ 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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