Coroner Training Programs and Education Requirements

Coroners lead investigations on cases of suspicious or violent deaths. Their responsibilities include hiring licensed specialists to perform autopsies, securing personal possessions of the deceased, communicating with surviving family members and signing death certificates. Coroners are elected officials who are typically voted in at the county level.

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Coroner Training Programs

Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Program

In most states and counties, after a coroner has been elected, he or she must complete a coroner training program. Several states use medicolegal death investigators training programs for basic coroner training, which usually requires 40 hours of training and can be completed in a single week in some locations. Topics covered in these programs include causes and manner of death, injury recognition, suicides, abuse recognition, crime scene investigations and death investigation laws.

Continued Education Coursework

As part of a continuous training system, many states and counties require coroners to participate in continued education coursework throughout their elected term. Some coroners choose to participate in conferences and courses run by the Federal Department of Criminal Justice, whereas others participate in courses run by the State Coroners' Education Board. Although workers can choose which courses they attend, participation in these programs is usually mandatory in order to keep coroners aware of legal and practical changes in the death investigations industry.

Death Investigators Certification

Coroners may also choose to become certified as death investigators. Completion of the basic coroner training program in most states prepares individuals to pursue certification with recognized organizations, such as the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, which provide basic registry certification and advanced board certification programs. Some states may require coroners to achieve certification during their elected term.

Prior to becoming certified, most organizations require death investigators to accrue multiple hours of field experience. Upon meeting eligibility requirements, applicants must pass examinations that cover such topics as investigating deaths, maintaining legal standards, cooperating with law enforcement and handling job-related stress. After passing the exam, workers must keep their certification active by participating in continued education coursework and meeting all other recertification requirements.

Coroner Education Requirements

Since coroners are elected officials, each state has different educational requirements. As such, some states require coroners to be licensed and practicing physicians, meaning that educational requirements include an undergraduate degree, a Doctor of Medicine degree and completion of a residency program. Other states prefer coroners to have a background in law enforcement, which implies that coroner candidates complete an undergraduate degree related to criminal justice. In November 2013, Payscale.com reported a median salary of $50,347 for these professionals, with most salaries ranging from $25,209-$100,860.

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