Nurse Coroner: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

A nurse coroner requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

A nurse coroner works with police and other investigators to determine cause of death and signs of victim abuse. Nurse coroners must be licensed registered nurses who have completed a graduate degree or certificate program in forensic nursing. Some states have additional certification requirements.

Required Education Graduate certificate or degree in forensic nursing
LicensingRegistered nursing license required; some states require additional certifications
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 19% for all registered nurses
Median Salary (2013)* $66,220 for all registered nurses

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nurse Coroner Job Description

Nurse coroners work in forensic nursing and collect evidence to determine cause of death. Nurse coroners are legally authorized by the states in which they work to provide information and certification regarding questionable deaths. Many times these professionals not only determine how someone died, but also work to identify victims and notify family members of such deaths.

Job Duties of a Nurse Coroner

Typically, nurse coroners do not have direct patient contact because their primary role is to work with deceased individuals. Sometimes, a nurse coroner might work with assault victims. The information determined by nurse coroners is typically used in legal proceedings or other investigations.

Nurse Coroner Education Requirements

A candidate interested in becoming a nurse coroner must graduate with a bachelor's degree in nursing and take the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses.

Forensic nursing programs are available at the master's and doctoral degree levels. Nurse coroner is just one career option for those with a master's degree in forensic nursing or a Ph.D. in Nursing with a forensic focus. Forensic nursing certificate programs are available at the graduate level.

Career Requirements for a Nurse Coroner

The field of forensic nursing provides numerous specialty opportunities for nurses. Upon completion of a forensic nursing program, registered nurses might choose to work as nurse coroners, sexual assault nurses, clinical nurse specialists or forensic psychiatric nurses. These types of nursing positions are considered advanced practice and require individuals to complete at least a master's degree. Additional certifications also might be required.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that registered nurses can expect 19% growth in job opportunities for the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). An emphasis in patient care and technological advances should lead to this job growth. The BLS reported that RNs earned a median salary of $66,220 in 2013.

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