Allied Health Professions/
A pathologists’ assistant is an intensively trained allied health professional who provides anatomic pathology services under the direction and supervision of a licensed, board-certified or board-eligible pathologist. A pathologists’ assistant is qualified to perform all of the surgical and autopsy functions of a pathologist leading up to, but not including, the diagnosis.
Under the direction and supervision of a pathologist, a pathologists’ assistant may provide the following:
By performing such a wide array of tasks, pathologists' assistants make a significant contribution to a laboratory's or pathology practice's effectiveness and cost efficiency.
Pathologists’ assistants perform in a wide scope of clinical practices. Although the majority of pathologists’ assistants work in academic (medical school/university) and community hospitals, they can also be employed in other areas such as private pathology laboratories, forensic pathology laboratories and morgues, reference laboratories, government healthcare systems and medical teaching facilities.
Some pathologists’ assistants are even self-employed business owners providing their pathology expertise via long- and short-term contract (locum tenens).
New program graduate salaries range from $75,000 to $90,000 with experienced pathologists' assistants earning $100,000 or more annually. Factors that influence a pathologists’ assistant’s salary include experience, workload, setting and regional cost of living. Sign-on, retention and annual bonuses are commonplace.
With a pathologists' assistant degree, you can find a job virtually anywhere in the United States, as well as in Canada and Australia. The prospects for finding employment are excellent for the foreseeable future.
About a Career as a Pathologists' Assistant
About Health Care Careers
Note: The American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants reviewed this career profile.
Save money and earn your bachelor's in health sciences or healthcare management more quickly with maximum credit transfer at Excelsior. Our low tuition makes it affordable for you to earn your degree from accredited college while you earn a living. Receive up to 32 credits for your health-related occupational license. Learn more about Excelsior College ...
To Do and Not to Do: Writing the College Essay
Part 4: How to Attend College Without Going into Too Much Debt
Part 2: How to Attend College Without Going into Too Much Debt
The Impact of Private Loans on Choice of Repayment Strategy
Personal Responsibility: Financing Your Health Sciences Education
Applying for Financial Aid (Part II)
Why Diversity Matters in the Health Professions
Start Preparing for Your Health Care Career in High School
Healthcare Reform 101
Keep Past Mistakes from Limiting Your Future Health Care Career
Top 10 Reasons to Pursue a Health Career Now
Ten pathologists’ assistant programs have been accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), and all but one require a bachelor’s degree in a science field. Prerequisite undergraduate courses include:
The NAACLS has a list of accredited pathologists’ assistants programs on its website. See specific programs for admission criteria.
Pathologists’ assistant programs are approximately two years of intense training, culminating in a master’s degree. (One program offers a bachelor’s degree.) The first year is a didactic (classroom/lecture) setting and the second year consists of clinical/clerkship rotations in a hospital/laboratory with hands-on experience.
The American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) partnered to achieve national certification for pathologists’ assistants in 2004. To earn the PA (ASCP) designation, an individual must now graduate from a NAACLS-accredited pathologists’ assistant training program and subsequently pass the ASCP board of certification examination.
Every three years, a certified pathologists’ assistant must demonstrate sufficient continuing medical education to maintain certification.
The ASCP provides information regarding certification on its Board of Certification page.
Many health professionals choose to go back to school to get a degree to become a pathologists’ assistant. Common first careers include histotechnologists, clinical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technicians, cytotechnologists, anatomic pathology technicians, autopsy technicians and military medics or hospital corpsman.
Pathologists’ assistants may join the American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants. To join as a student, you must be enrolled in a NAACLS-accredited program.
American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants
American Society for Clinical Pathology
College of American Pathologists
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Search for funding opportunities related to this career
Search for enrichment programs related to this career
Search for academic degree and certificate programs related to this career
Allied Health Professions
Last updated: September 26, 2016
©2012 American Dental Education Association