How to become a Coroner? What’s the difference between a Medical Examiner and a Coroner?

Coroners work for the law enforcement department and hold a wide range of obligations on their shoulders. Although medical examiners and coroners are generally thought to be performing the same duties, a coroner has a much more precise and distinctive role in inquiring and determining the reason behind deaths.

Coroners and coroner’s assistants execute autopsies to identify the reason behind violet and suspicious murders and deaths. Communicating with survivors, storing bodies in the mortuary, confirming and signing death certificates are also included in their responsibilities.

If autopsies, inquiries about death, and investigating the crime influence you and you want to know how to become a coroner or how to become a coroner assistant, then the article is for you.

How to become a Coroner Assistant?

The required qualifications, practicing hours, and degrees for a coroner greatly vary from one state to another. In some jurisdictions, you may need to provide some prerequisites to be appointed as a coroner, in others maybe you need to have more or less the same qualifications and training that a medical examiner has to appear in.

To be a coroner, you need to apply for a deputy coroner or coroner assistant first.

Applying for a Coroner Assistant

A coroner must have to have vast experience in inquiring about criminal and suspicious deaths and hands-on experience in death investigations. In some states, you may need to have additional certification to be a lead or chief coroner. Assistant coroner, on the other hand, may need to have comparatively less experience or prerequisites. This is why I applied to be an assistant coroner as an entry-level first.

Required prerequisites may also differ between countries, states, and municipalities. But for applying for an assistant you need to have at least a GED or high school diploma.

You may also require to appear some other tests and exams that may include:

  • Physical exam
  • College degree
  • Criminal Background check
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Alcohol/drug test


Keep in mind that a coroner needs to interact with the casualties, survivors, families, companies, agencies, witnesses, and the families of the deceased and often the court officers.

Expect your interviewer to ask you about these behaviors and assess you on the basis of emotional and practical scenarios. Put your best foot ahead to make your mark.

Completing Probation Period

Once you are appointed, receive hands-on experience for at least 13 to16 months. You may have to perform several duties in intense situations that may include:

  • Determining the damage done to the victim
  • Identifying victims
  • Researching medical history for a victim
  • Informing families about the death of the victim
  • Investigating witnesses
  • Investigating crime scenes
  • Coordinate with the officers, contractors, and agencies
  • Testifying in the court.


In between your probationary period or after that you may need to attempt and clear the National Police Officer Selection Test (POST). This certification is necessary for the law enforcement professionals working for the agencies and companies.

You will also require a certification of death investigator through the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (AMBDI). Furthermore, you need to take and clear the Registry Examination as well. And then again, as said earlier requirements can vary across states.

How is a Coroner different from a Medical Examiner?

A coroner and a medical examiner are similar in many ways, however, their roles differ in many significant ways. The responsibilities of a medical examiner can be more defined and differ based on locality. Know the basic differences between them to see which role inspires you the most.

Medical Examiners


Medical examiners generally are appointed by the hospital or the organization’s head.

Coroners are usually elected and sometimes appointed.

A medical examiner should be a licensed physician with sound experience in forensic pathology.

Based on the responsibilities a coroner may require to have the same education and perform similar duties as a medical examiner in different situations

The primary purpose of the medical examiners is to perform autopsies and find out the reason for casualties and do respective tests to verify the conclusion.

A coroner may require to supervise or do more administrative tasks where your expertise may require less medical and more administrative experience.

State Requirements for a Coroner

No matter where you wish to apply as a coroner assistant or a coroner, be sure to know the state, country’s, or municipality’s demanded prerequisites. Find out what education, experience, certification, and specialized training they need for a certain office or position. Once you get the experience to work as a coroner assistant, as a coroner, or a medical examiner, determine your next steps. Determine if you want to run an office or simply want to do a 9-5 job.

Let’ look at the states offering coroner positions:

  • Ohio, Louisiana, Kansas, and Minnesota require you to be a physician.
  • Georgia, Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Montana, Indiana, Idaho, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia demand a coroner to have specialized training.
  • Arizona, Alaska, Delaware, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Utah are the states that do not have coroner’s offices.


  • How long does it take to become a coroner?

It takes almost two years of intense training to be a coroner. You have to apply for a coroner assistant first and look for the additional qualification that your state or country needs to be a coroner.

  • How much can you make as a coroner assistant?

The average annual salary of a coroner assistant and the assistant to the medical examiner in the United States is $66,774. The average per hour cost of an assistant is $32.10 which equals $1,284 per week and $5,564 a month.

  • Do Coroners perform autopsies?

Those autopsies that are performed after the state order can be done by a county coroner who does not necessarily be a doctor. Whereas, a medical examiner who performs autopsies is by profession and education a doctor, generally a pathologist.

  • What qualifications do you need to be a coroner?

Based on the state you live in, the requirements of becoming a coroner may differ. Typically, a coroner must be:

  • A member of agencies like Chartered Institute of Legal Executives with sound experience.
  • According to some states, he must also be a solicitor.

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