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In most counties in the United States, a coroner is elected, or voted in. At this point, they need to complete a coroner training program, which covers topics like injury recognition, causes and manner of death, suicides, abuse recognition and death investigation laws. A training program like this requires 40 hours to complete, and can be done in one week. A coroner is required to keep up-to-date with legal and practical changes in the death investigation industry, and it is mandatory to participate in on-going education. Coroners can also continue on to get their Death Investigators Certification, with some states requiring their coroners to achieve certification during their term.
A person who wants to become a medical examiner must complete a doctor of medicine degree. Medical school lasts four years. The first two years include more book study, while the last two years are more physical work in medicine. The student must take their residency in forensic pathology. This forensic training normally lasts about four years, but students can go on further into specialty forensics.
After the completion of a residency program, the student will join a fellowship working under a medical examiner. Here, they will learn all of the ins and outs of the field. The fellowship training allows for the individual to learn crime scene investigation, medical examination of the remains, and preparing court documents on homicides and other types of deaths. The fellowship programs for medical examiners normally last a year. The fellowship can go on longer at the discretion of the program and the country that the program is taking place in.
Depending on the country that one studies in, after the fellowship, certification is required. Most countries require a certification exam for licensure to act as a coroner in an official capacity. In the United States, the state certification exam is given by the American Board of Pathology.