Advanced training is necessary to become a professional in this field. During the undergraduate years, it's important to major in a biological field such as chemistry, science, or pre-medical studies. Individuals who only obtain an undergraduate level degree may be able to find employment as laboratory technologists, but the opportunities for growth are limited. Individuals who have earned a masters level degree in animal or plant pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, or another related field may qualify for an applied research or teaching position within the pathology field.
For individuals who want to work with plant disease a doctoral degree in plant pathology or another field of botany is required. For individuals who wish to work in the area of animal science, a doctoral degree in pathology or zoology, or a degree in veterinary medicine (D.V.M.) is essential. Students should expect to complete a four-year undergraduate degree along with an additional four years of advance level training to obtain these qualifications.
Medical professionals in the field will attend medical school for four years after completing their undergraduate degree program to obtain a doctor of medicine (M.D.). In some situations the person will spend six years in medical school and complete a doctoral degree in pathology along with their medical degree. Once the medical school program is complete, the student will spend roughly four more years working as a resident in a hospital pathology department for further training. A medical pathologist should expect to spend approximately 12 years meeting the educational requirements before they are considered fully qualified in the field. However, training is ongoing to stay abreast with advancements in the field.
Education History of Pathologists
The most common degree held by pathologists is Biology.
12% of pathologists had a degree in biology before becoming pathologists. That is over 4 times the average across all careers.
Pathologist Education History
This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Pathologist, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.