How To Become an Autopsy Technician

What Is an Autopsy Technician?

Death is a natural part of life. Not every decedent requires an autopsy, but those who do are entrusted to the skilled and compassionate hands of an autopsy technician and a medical examiner or coroner.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as an autopsy technician, it may be because you have a respectful attitude toward the dead and a desire to help families get the answers they seek about their loved ones’ passing. This career guide explains how to become an autopsy technician and what you can expect from the field.


Estimated number of jobs held by forensic science technicians in 20221

What Does an Autopsy Technician Do?

Every day can bring new and interesting cases on which an autopsy technician can work. The processing requirements for a suspected homicide are different from those of suspected medical malpractice. 

In general, however, an autopsy technician’s typical tasks include the following:

Autopsy Technician Working on Lab Equipement
Preparing autopsy suites

Includes cleaning, organizing and any other preparative measures.

Processing bodies

Processing can include lifting, transferring, positioning, photography and collecting tissue samples.

Assisting the medical examiner or coroner

The technician does so by removing organs, weighing the organs and collecting body fluids and tissue samples for analysis.

Assist in determining cause of death

This involves performing a complete dissection of an area of the body to accurately determine the cause of death.


Meticulous documentation is necessary, such as the patient’s clinical history, noting any unusual findings, and taking fingerprints.

Diagnostic imaging

Performing imaging, such as X-rays, may be necessary in certain cases.

As demonstrated above, there are many important tasks that an autopsy technician must be able to perform. When dealing with death, following safety standards, ensuring accurate documentation and following other protocols as directed from the coroner are among some of the most important aspects of the job, especially when it pertains to the analysis of individuals whose death is believed to be related to a crime.

What Education and Experience Does an Autopsy Technician Need?

You may wish to pursue a career as an autopsy technician because you are passionate about respecting the rights of the deceased and treating their surviving family members with compassion. Below are the educational steps and options for aspiring autopsy technicians that can help you better understand the education level and experience requirements needed for this career.

You will need to earn your high school diploma or GED to get started on this career path. If you are still in high school, you should make an appointment with your school counselor to discuss your career plans. It may be possible to adjust your course schedule to reflect your future ambitions by adding more health-related classes such as anatomy and physiology, for example. Science and math classes will also be helpful.

Aspiring autopsy technicians should make plans to pursue a college degree in a related field, such as pre-med, biology or forensic science. While an associate degree may be adequate for certain positions, the most common route is earning a bachelor’s degree.2 A graduate degree may not be strictly required, but could be recommended for potentially enhancing your career qualifications and job opportunities.

Internships and volunteer positions present another opportunity to gain knowledge and experience this field. This can also give you hands-on training with many aspects of the autopsy process, and gives you the opportunity to demonstrate to future employers your knowledge of various safety procedures and protocols.

After earning your associate or bachelor’s degree and possibly gaining relevant work experience, you will be able to apply for your first entry-level autopsy technician position. In your entry-level job, you may find yourself doing tasks such as preparing and transporting bodies, maintaining a clean autopsy area, and assisting the coroner, medical examiner or pathologist with the examination.

The American Board of Medicolegal Death (AMBDI) offers certification for autopsy technicians that may help increase your potential to gain possible career opportunities. There is an exam you must take that will measure your knowledge of factual and technical information, problem-solving abilities and other principles of the field. After you pass, you will earn the title of Diplomate of the AMBDI. 

As you can see, there is not only one educational path that can lead to this career. Ensuring you receive a well-rounded, science-forward education, gaining experience through internships or advanced studies and obtaining certification can help prepare you for a career in this field of forensic science. 

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Best Degrees for an Autopsy Technician

After high school, the first step in the process of becoming an autopsy technician is to earn a degree from an accredited university. There is some flexibility regarding the type of degree that you can earn. For instance, some students might choose to earn a biology, chemistry, biochemistry or pre-med degree.

However, a forensic science degree may be an ideal choice. These degrees are multidisciplinary by nature and cover all the important areas of study that aspiring autopsy technicians need to know, as well as offering courses in biology, biochemistry, physics, genetics and mathematics. 

It’s not strictly necessary for an aspiring or current autopsy technician to earn a master’s degree. However, earning a master’s degree in forensic science may help you become more eligible for potential career advancement opportunities.

  • Procedures and techniques of crime scene documentation and processing
  • Proper evidence collection and storage
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Forensic toxicology and drug metabolism
  • Serology and forensic DNA analysis


GCU Recommends These Degree Programs for Autopsy Technicians

If you are looking to take on a career as an autopsy technician, GCU offers the following degree programs that will teach you the foundational skills you need in forensic and natural sciences in order to pursue this career path:

Bachelor’s Programs

Master's Programs

Other Programs

What Skills Do Autopsy Technicians Need?

There are important skills that you should take into consideration if you’re wondering how to become an autopsy technician. Some of these skills include:3

  • Communication
  • Critical-thinking
  • Detail-oriented
  • Math and science
  • Problem-solving
Autopsy Technician Hands Tray Full of Medical Utensils

Median Annual Wage


Median annual wage for forensic science technicians as of May 20234

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (BLS) does not specifically have autopsy technician salary data. However, it has collected data on a similar occupation — forensic science technician. According to the BLS, forensic science technicians had a median annual salary of $64,940 in May 2023.4 

Projected Job Growth


Estimated job growth for forensic science technicians from 2022 to 20325

The BLS does not list job growth estimates for autopsy technicians specifically, but we can look at data for forensic science technicians for comparison. The BLS estimates job growth for forensic science technicians to increase by about 13% from 2022 to 2032, faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 2,300 jobs in the field.5 

Where Do Autopsy Technicians Work?

There are several work environments where autopsy technicians or related occupations are a valuable and necessary part of the organization. While they mainly work in a laboratory setting, some may provide additional assistance working in an office. These professionals may work for organizations such as:1

Local government

The majority of forensic science jobs take place within a local government setting, excluding education and hospital settings.1 These technicians can be useful in many areas of local government, especially investigative or law enforcement. 

State government

As with the local government setting, state governments have departments that may benefit from the work of autopsy technicians.

Private laboratories

Autopsy technicians can work in private labs that perform autopsies. These are completed at the request of families or attorneys, sometimes to obtain a second opinion on the cause and manner of death.

Advancement Opportunities within Forensic Science

Autopsy technicians who have begun working after earning their bachelor’s may decide to return to school to further their education. A master’s in forensic science degree can provide these technicians with the advanced knowledge to increase their potential to gain more advanced career opportunities in this field. In this program, you will work to deepen your knowledge and gain an advanced skill set that may prove useful to high-level jobs in forensic science.

Autopsy Technician Fills Out Notes and Looks Positively at Camera

You can take your first step toward pursuing a career as an autopsy technician by applying to Grand Canyon University. Fill out the form on this page to get started today!

Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2024, March 27). Work Environment. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Feb. 9, 2024. 

2 College Educated. (n.d.). How to become an autopsy technician. Retrieved March 18, 2024. 

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2024, March 27). How to Become a Forensic Science Technician. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Feb. 9, 2024. 

4 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Forensic Science Technicians, as of May 2023, retrieved May 22, 2024. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2023 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as forensic science technicians, nor does it reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc., against a pool of candidates. 

5 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forensic Science Technicians, retrieved on Feb. 9, 2024.