Prediagnostic Pathology - Pathologists' Assistant

The performance of autopsies and gross dissection of tissues and organs removed during biopsy or surgery prior to their microscopic examination for disease

High School Preparation

A high school diploma or GED will be required for a career as a pathologists' assistant since a bachelor's degree is required at minimum.  The minimum suggested high school curriculum includes

  • Mathematics through algebra
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • English composition

Education Required

Pathologists' assistants must earn a bachelor's degree and complete an accredited education program.  The accredited educational program may be included in a bachelors's degree program or a master's degree program.  Preparation for an accredited program should include

  • College level mathematics through algebra
  • Chemistry, including inorganic and organic
  • General biology
  • English composition
  • Basic computer skills are essential.

Additional recommended courses would include biochemistry, histology, cell biology, molecular biology, carcinogensis, anatomy, physiology, and genetics.

The curriculum of the professional phase of course work will include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Embryology
  • Medial terminology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Surgical pathology
  • Autopsy pathology
  • Histochemistry

To support the roles of pathologists' assistants as supervisors and managers in laboratories, pathologists' assistance curriculums will also include

  • Laboratory management - including financial management of the laboratory; hiring and training of personnel; ;quality assurance activities; regulations affecting laboratories
  • Training and education - including how to teach laboratory skills to students and employees, how to administer education programs in laboratory science.


Pathologists' assistants who have completed accredited educational programs are eligible for the national certification examinations.  This national exam allows pathologists' assistants to demonstrate their knowledge of pathology procedures and techniques.  Employers prefer to hire certified individuals.  

Some states will require pathologists' assistants to be licensed.