A medical examiner determines the cause of death when someone in seemingly good health passes away. Whether the death is caused by an unknown illness, suicide, homicide or an accident, it is the medical examiner's job to get answers. This can be accomplished by performing an autopsy. Extensive training as a physician and forensic pathologist is required to become a medical examiner. A medical examiner's salary range varies based on region and level of experience.
Medical Examiner Salary Based on Region:
Pay range for a medical examiner varies by region. For example, the state of Virginia reports medical examiners earn between $91,324 to over $187,000 statewide. However, the salary range in Northern Virginia climbs to over $200,000. A 2012 article in "Hawaii Reporter" says that a Honolulu's chief medical examiner's starting pay is at $200,016. And according to news report on WLS-TV in Chicago, a Florida medical examiner hired to serve in Chicago as Cook County's medical examiner commanded $300,000 annually.
Experience Pays For A Medical Examiner:
The salary range for a deputy medical examiner is considerably less than pay for a chief medical examiner. For example, county commissioners in El Paso, Texas, offer a deputy medical examiner for the county a starting pay of $172,000 a year, while the chief medical examiner takes home $250,000 annually. According to The Texas Tribune, annual salaries for deputy medical examiners in Travis County, Texas range from $174,250 for the first level to above $192,000 for a second level deputy with more experience. The chief medical examiner in the same county earns $205,000 a year. A job posting on the American Academy of Forensic Sciences website says that a deputy medical examiner position at a Michigan hospital pays a range of $170,000 to $180,000 a year, with the potential for a higher ceiling with board-eligibility or certification in neuropathology.
The compensation for a medical examiner not only includes pay, but also a benefits package. Retirement, health and life insurance, plus paid vacation time are standard. Some employers offer additional pay to cover continuing medical education requirements.
To become a medical examiner, candidates must first earn a degree as a physician. This typically requires four years of college, four years of medical school and a residency. The next step is to become a forensic pathologist. This involves training in anatomic, clinical and forensic pathology, as well as hands-on experience under the direct supervision of a certified forensic pathologist. Successful completion of the certification process includes passing the American Board of Pathology exam.