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How Do I Become a Coroner Investigator?

Coroner investigators must not be squeamish around corpses.
Training as a paramedic can be good preparation for work as a coroner investigator.
Related training in the service can prepare future coroners.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Images By: Forestpath, Candybox Images, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2014
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There are four items required to become a coroner investigator: post-secondary training, related work experience, psychological profile, and the completion the job interview process. A coroner investigator is responsible for responding to calls to collect a body from hospitals, long-term care facilities, police, and members of the public. The role of the investigator is to take legal custody of the remains, arrange for transport to the morgue, and locating and identifying the next of kin.

People who are trained to work on the front lines of health services, are not squeamish, and enjoy working independently find this type of career interesting. It is important to note that a coroner investigator is not responsible for conducting autopsies or preparing the body for burial. This job requires long hours and the physical strength to move bodies with assistance.

The first requirement to become a coroner investigator is to complete a post-secondary education program. There is no specific training program to become a coroner investigator. Instead, candidates must have at least a four-year degree or diploma in the health sciences. Courses required include anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

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Related work experience is typically required to apply for this type of role. In general, most employers require at least one year experience working with catastrophic injury or death. This experience is usually obtained through work as an emergency or operating room nurse, paramedic, emergency medical technologist or related profession. The vast majority of employers will not accept candidates without this type of working background.

This career is not suitable for anyone who is not mentally prepared to be faced with death on a daily basis. Although glorified in the media, only a very small group of people will find they are suited to become a coroner investigator. The burn-out rate is very high, and is reflective of the mental and emotional stress of this job.

Most employers will require a recent psychological profile for any candidate. This profile typically covers the primary motivation for wanting to work in this field, personal strengths and weaknesses, and stress coping mechanisms. In addition, many agencies have drug-testing protocols for their employees, to look for both prescription and street drug use.

When applying to become a coroner investigator, be sure to proofread your resume and cover letter, double-checking for any grammar or spelling mistakes. During the job interview process, take the time to prepare for the interview. Think of a list of standard interview questions and prepare your answers in advance.

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anon324196
Post 5

@Azuza: The entire job is not just "to move dead bodies and find their family members." A coroner investigator is intimately involved in crime-scene investigation and preservation, collection of evidence and personal effects, and reporting on cause of death.

I've worked with dead people for a long time - and it's about a whole lot more than driving them around; that's what a mortuary does. That being said, death is only a state. You will die, and your loved ones will die. The people who do these jobs are able to separate emotion from ethics and perform. They like working independently, and they are meticulous in every detail. Pretty awesome job, really.

Tomislav
Post 4

I think it is amazing and commendable that someone would choose to be a coroner for any length of time. Someone needs to be there to take proper care of the dead body and identify it as soon as possible so the person's loved one's can be notified swiftly.

It makes perfect sense that to become a coroner you must have some experience with fatal injuries and death. This is something you would need to be exposed to prior to see if you could handle all sorts of sad/gruesome situations.

This is not a profession that someone should get thrown into, this seems like a profession that could scar someone for life if they are not mentally prepared for it.

This is a very important job, thank you to all the coroner's out there who put your emotions and everything else on hold for the sake of these dead people and their loved one's.

snickerish
Post 3

One of my worse fears is loved one's dying. And although I doubt I would have to identify my own loved one's bodies, I could not imagine identifying even a complete stranger's dead body.

I am very emotional, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and am squeamish when it comes to horrible, gruesome things, so I would not be a good candidate for this job.

indemnifyme
Post 2

@Azuza - Most people are uncomfortable with dead bodies. I am too. I imagine that's part of why the burn-out rate is so high for coroner investigators.

However, I have a friend that works with dead bodies harvesting corneas. She loves her job. She's not a big people person and she isn't squeamish.

I'm glad there are people out there who are willing to do these jobs. Dead bodies don't magically get transported and ready for burial all by themselves!

Azuza
Post 1

This basically sounds like the worst job ever. Basically the entire job of a coroner investigator is to move dead bodies and find their family members.

I seriously do not think I could do it. Death really freaks me out. I couldn't imagine driving a vehicle with a dead body in it. And it wouldn't even be in a casket or anything! No thanks!

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