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Career profile Pathologist

Also known as Anatomic Pathologist, Cytopathologist, Dermatopathologist, Forensic Pathologist, Hematopathologist, Neuropathologist, Oral Pathologist, Pathologist, Surgical Pathologist

Pathologist

Also known as Anatomic Pathologist, Cytopathologist, Dermatopathologist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$61,380 - $208,000+ (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Biology
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Examine microscopic samples to identify diseases or other abnormalities.
  • Diagnose diseases or study medical conditions, using techniques such as gross pathology, histology, cytology, cytopathology, clinical chemistry, immunology, flow cytometry, or molecular biology.
  • Write pathology reports summarizing analyses, results, and conclusions.
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What does a Pathologist do?

Pathologists diagnose diseases and conduct lab tests using organs, body tissues, and fluids.

In addition, Pathologists includes medical examiners.

What kind of tasks does a Pathologist perform regularly?

Pathologists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Examine microscopic samples to identify diseases or other abnormalities.
  • Diagnose diseases or study medical conditions, using techniques such as gross pathology, histology, cytology, cytopathology, clinical chemistry, immunology, flow cytometry, or molecular biology.
  • Write pathology reports summarizing analyses, results, and conclusions.
  • Communicate pathologic findings to surgeons or other physicians.
  • Identify the etiology, pathogenesis, morphological change, and clinical significance of diseases.
  • Read current literature, talk with colleagues, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in genetics.
  • Consult with physicians about ordering and interpreting tests or providing treatments.
  • Analyze and interpret results from tests, such as microbial or parasite tests, urine analyses, hormonal assays, fine needle aspirations (FNAs), and polymerase chain reactions (PCRs).
  • Review cases by analyzing autopsies, laboratory findings, or case investigation reports.
  • Manage medical laboratories.
  • Develop or adopt new tests or instruments to improve diagnosis of diseases.
  • Educate physicians, students, and other personnel in medical laboratory professions, such as medical technology, cytotechnology, or histotechnology.
  • Plan and supervise the work of the pathology staff, residents, or visiting pathologists.
  • Perform autopsies to determine causes of deaths.

The above responsibilities are specific to Pathologists. More generally, Pathologists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Pathologist salary?

The median salary for a Pathologist is over $208,000, and the average salary is $218,850. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Pathologist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Pathologists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Pathologists earn less than $61,380 per year, 25% earn less than $126,470, 75% earn more than $208,000, and 90% earn more than $208,000.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Pathologists is expected to change by 4.5%, and there should be roughly 13,400 open positions for Pathologists every year.

Median annual salary
Over $208,000
Typical salary range
$61,380 - Over $208,000
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
4.5%

What personality traits are common among Pathologists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Pathologist are usually higher in their Investigative and Realistic interests.

Pathologists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Pathologists typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Pathologist tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Recognition.

Most importantly, Pathologists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Pathologists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Pathologists strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Pathologists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Pathologists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Achievement/Effort
Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Pathologists need?

Many Pathologists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Pathologists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Pathologists

  • 100.0% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Pathologists

Pathologists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as medicine and dentistry, biology, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Pathologists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Chemistry
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.

Important Abilities needed by Pathologists

Pathologists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Pathologists need abilities such as inductive reasoning, problem sensitivity, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Pathologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Critical Skills needed by Pathologists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Pathologists frequently use skills like reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Pathologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.