Careers in pathology

From investigating infertility to researching neurological disorders, pathology careers are incredibly diverse – each focuses on a different area of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Most pathologists and their scientifically qualified counterparts work in hospitals and laboratories with other doctors and healthcare professionals to identify and treat disease. Many also conduct research, lead on training and education, and act as expert advisors to healthcare organisations and the government.  

Broadly speaking, those working in pathology focus on one of eight areas. The four most common are:

  • tissue and bone – including histopathologists, who play a key role in diagnosing cancer
  • blood – including haematologists, who support those with blood-borne disorders
  • the chemistry of the body – including chemical pathologists, who help diagnose and plan the treatment of diseases such as diabetes
  • infection – including microbiologists and virologists, who work together to manage infection.

Others work in smaller fields, focusing on immunity, genetics and reproduction, toxins and animal disease.

Choosing your role

When choosing what you’d like to do it’s worth considering which your best subjects are, what you find interesting and whether you’d prefer to become a doctor or a scientist.

What fascinates you?

Consider what aspects of science and medicine fascinate you. Maybe you’re keen on using microscopes and analysing and identifying patterns. If so, working as a histopathologist – and leading on the diagnosis of disease in tissue – might suit you well. Or perhaps you like the idea of helping others have a family – you could thrive in a career as a reproductive scientist. To find your fit, explore the different areas of pathology.

Medicine or science?

Many people working in pathology start out as either a doctor or a scientist – which is why many describe pathology as the bridge between medicine and science. If you’re excited about the prospect of working in a laboratory, or are interested in more patient-centred work, you might want to consider choosing your role on this basis.

Find the role that's right for you