Contact us

Chat with us

Phone: 13 64 64 or (08)9224 6500
TTY: 08 9225 7831
(Hearing impaired only)
Site search



Occupation search

Occupation Search


Back to top

Summary of occupation

Pathologists are experts in the nature, causes and processes of diseases. Over 70% of all diagnoses involve pathology tests. Pathologists provide the evidence to diagnose cancers, infectious diseases and diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Pathologists play an important role in blood transfusion services as well as solving tough cases using tissue testing including blood, body secretions and tissue samples to determine the cause of illness or death.
There are approximately 33 pathologists in Western Australia, all of whom work in the metropolitan area.

ANZSCO description: Identifies the cause and processes of disease  and illness by examining changes in body tissue and in blood and  other body fluids, and conducts tests on samples of tissues, blood  and body secretions. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Clinical Cytopathologist, Forensic Pathologist, Immunologist
Job prospects: Average
Back to top

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A pathologist needs:

  • a detailed knowledge of physiology, pathophysiology and all medical sciences
  • to understand the nature, cause, development and clinical management of diseases in people and the structural and functional changes caused by them
  • to be thorough, accurate and have an extreme attention to detail
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • to enjoy the challenge of solving difficult cases
  • to be a critical thinker and analyser
  • a desire to serve patients and be compassionate towards others
  • emotional stability and the confidence to make decisions in emergencies
  • a willingness to continue research
Back to top

Working conditions

Pathologists work in laboratories predominately in large public or private practices, or in public and private hospitals. They are exposed to most aspects of medical practice however may not be directly involved in patient care.
Pathology is very much a team effort with pathologists working very closely with scientists, laboratory technicians and other medical specialists.
In general, all disciplines of pathology provide a good work/life balance with the option of part time work and flexible working hours.

Working conditions are usually comfortable however pathologists may sometimes deal with unpleasant conditions due to a patient's infection or illness. Maintaining strict hygiene practices is important.

Back to top

Salary details

On average, pathologists can expect to earn between $2 692 and $3 462 per week ($140 000 to $180 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

Back to top

Tools and technologies

Pathologists use tools for viewing , cutting, embedding and sectioning and aspirating specimens to diagnose disease. Overall laboratories are highly technical workspaces with elaborate instruments and computer technologies which need to be managed by the pathologist.

Back to top

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a pathologist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in pathology.

Postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To specialise in pathology, doctors can apply to the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

Related courses

Back to top

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

Back to top

Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

Back to top


Related links

Related occupations

Need advice?

Profile and social options