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How to become a morgue assistant

Pathologists are responsible for determining a person's cause of death, as well as working with law enforcement and morticians to solve crimes and dispose of bodies properly.

Standard tasks related to this work, such as filling out paperwork, preparing the body for examination and sterilising equipment, do not require as much medical expertise as the pathologist possesses, and therefore can be completed by a morgue assistant.

This lets the examiner concentrate on the autopsies and complete work in a more timely fashion. Those interested in becoming a morgue assistant should get a bachelor's degree and complete internship and licensure requirements.

Investigate colleges that provide programs in forensic science, crime scene investigation, biology or nursing. Any of these paths will work, but a forensic science or nursing degree is most applicable to the morgue assistant position. Some employers do hire assistants with just a high school diploma, but you will be more competitive -- and have an easier time meeting state guidelines -- if you have a bachelor's degree.

Take any examinations necessary for certification and licensure in your state. These will vary based on the degree you've opted to pursue, but your academic facility or state licensing board should be able to tell you what your jurisdiction requires for any field. Expect to take basic exam on mortuary law, regardless of what degree you have.

Find and apply for any internships at morgues. This is where you receive the bulk of your on-the-job, clinical training. You should have at least one year of experience before applying for morgue assistant jobs independently. The internship may or may not be part of your degree.

Update your resume to reflect your degree, licensure and certifications, and internship experience.

Write a cover letter you can tailor to each employer. Send the letter with your resume and job application.

Look for morgue assistant job positions that interest you. A good resource is the National Funeral Directors Association. Websites such as Pathology Jobs Today and those for your local or state government also may have job postings. Apply to the jobs that look most promising.