Pathologist Kaimātai Mate Tangata

Pathologists are doctors who study human diseases and conditions. They diagnose health problems by testing samples from tissues of the body, blood and other bodily fluids. 

Pathologists may do some or all of the following:

  • study and test tissue and fluids for disease
  • diagnose diseases such as cancer and diabetes
  • take samples of body tissue and fluids
  • find genetic causes of disease
  • write detailed reports
  • provide advice for medical practitioners
  • investigate deaths and complete autopsies
  • research diseases to find cures
  • teach medical students and trainees
  • monitor treatment of diseases.

Auckland Doctors website – information about specialist training in pathology


Physical Requirements

Pathologists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for pathologists includes:

  • work in healthcare in hospitals or clinics
  • work in a laboratory
  • work caring for people.

Personal Qualities

Pathologists need to be:

  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • analytical, with problem-solving skills
  • able to work well under pressure
  • excellent at data analysis and interpretation
  • good at communicating
  • good at report writing.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for pathologists includes:

  • work in healthcare in hospitals or clinics
  • work in a laboratory
  • work caring for people.

Subject Recommendations

NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include maths with calculus and/or statistics, chemistry, physics, biology and English.

Pathologists can earn around $112K-$166K per year per year.

Pathologists may progress to teach students and trainee pathologists at larger hospitals and universities. They may also become clinical directors, combining an administrative role with a pathology role. 

Pathologists may also specialise in roles such as:

Anatomical Pathologist
Anatomical pathologists study organs and tissues to help determine the cause and effect of diseases. They are primarily involved in diagnosing cancers.
Cytopathologists study cells from fluid samples taken by scraping a lesion on a body or with a needle.
Forensic Pathologist
Forensic pathologists investigate unexpected deaths, analyse criminal cases and assist the police in a range of investigations.
Genetic Pathologist
Genetic pathology involves testing chromosomes and DNA from cells in body fluids and tissues, and diagnosing genetic diseases.
Haematologists deal with diseases that affect the blood, such as anaemia and leukaemia and may also work in blood typing and compatibility testing, and the management and supply of a large range of blood products.
Histopathologists study tissues from patients to check if a disease is present.
Immunopathologists study and test specimens from the immune system.
Microbiologists deal with diseases caused by infectious agents, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites through testing blood, body fluids and tissue samples.