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Forensic Morgue Technician: Job Descriptions and Requirements

Forensic morgue technicians assist medical examiners in duties related to autopsies and evidence gathering for law enforcement offices. They are trained to perform general mortician duties and aid coroners in post-mortem detective work.

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Job Description of a Forensic Morgue Technician

A forensic morgue technician performs duties that frequently begin at the point the body is collected for examination. They must be able to lift, either alone or with the assistance of another person, bodies weighing up to 300 pounds. In some extreme cases, the morgue technician may be required to assist in a search for missing body parts that may have become severed and removed from the immediate vicinity of the body.

Morgue technicians work with corpses in all states of decomposition and learn how to transport human remains in even the most fragile states to ensure that the body yields as much evidence as possible when it arrives at the lab. They learn to assist and eventually perform on their own, methods of opening chest and brain cavities, proper removal of human organs for study, and sample-taking techniques for lab processing.

Some technicians, under the guidance of medical examiners, learn evidence collection techniques including rudimentary forensic photography, fingerprinting methods, and ways of observing the body to detect an abnormality that may require closer inspection. Morgue technicians suture incisions and are responsible for cleaning the body prior to release.

All morgue technicians must learn chain of evidence or custody of evidence procedures. They complete paperwork authorizing the release of the body to a mortuary once the medical examiner is finished.

Maintenance and preparation of equipment are part of a morgue technician's daily tasks. They must be able to keep a level of cleanliness in the morgue that constitutes a sterile environment.

Forensic Morgue Technician Requirements

Education

According to the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME), a high school diploma is all that is required for entry-level morgue technician positions. Many job postings list requirements such as an associate's degree in medical laboratory science or technical school training in mortuary science.

Experience

As this is considered to be an entry-level position, most job postings list required experience of only one year in positions related to the medical or health fields, including veterinary labs. Morgue technicians may be expected to maintain data bases and records; therefore, experience with handling paperwork and computer knowledge is desirable.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to Salary.com, the majority of morgue attendants working in December 2013 earned between $25,509 and $48,490 a year. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of forsensic morgue technology, the BLS did project that the employment of forensic science technicians will likely grow by about 19% between 2010 and 2020, a rate on the faster end of the average range predicted for all occupations.

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