How to Become a Deputy Coroner

by Robert Vaux; Updated September 26, 2017
Deputy coroners help identify the cause of death.

Coroners work in conjunction with the police and other official organizations in the investigation of deaths. A coroner examines the body of the deceased in order to identify it and determine the cause and manner of death. Based on the coroner’s findings, the police will know whether a crime has been committed and gain a general idea of where to begin their investigation. Deputy coroners serve as assistants to the coroner and perform many duties in the coroner’s stead. Requirements for becoming a deputy coroner vary from state to state, but some general guidelines still apply.

Step 1

Attend college and major in a field that facilitates coroner’s work. Most states require at least an associate degree, and a bachelor’s or master’s degree often improves your chances of getting work. Look for fields that relate to law enforcement, such as criminal justice or forensic science, or medical fields such as nursing, emergency medical service, medical technology or pathology.

Step 2

Write down the legal requirements for coroner positions in the geographical areas where you wish to work. Specifics vary by community. Some cities, for example, demand a medical degree or formal training in a medical field such as nursing or EMT training. The state of Indiana requires a 40 hour "Medicolegal Death Investigators Course," followed by formal certification. Madison County, Illinois, on the other hand, demands an associate degree in a specific field, or three years' experience in associated work like nursing or law enforcement. Also, keep in mind that some communities elect their coroners, which means that you may need to educate yourself about running political campaigns.

Step 3

Contact the local coroner’s office and ask about internships while you study, or speak to your particular school about programs it may have in conjunction with the local coroner’s office. Any experience helps you get a leg up on a future position, and if you do well, you may gain a reference to an area in need of a deputy coroner when you graduate.

Step 4

Get a job in a field connected to coroner’s work. This can include positions in the local police force – particularly areas such as forensics – paramedic work or hospital work. Many areas require a number of years' experience in a related field before applying for deputy coroner work.

Step 5

Keep tabs on employment opportunities within the coroner’s office. Stay in contact with the county employment officials and look for openings that fit your area of expertise (even if they aren’t precisely deputy coroner work). Most coroners work at the behest of the local government, so you need to focus on employment opportunities within the public sector.

Step 6

Submit an application for a deputy coroner’s position. The head coroner in most areas appoints deputy coroners from a field of qualified applicants. They can’t contact you if you don’t fill out an application.

Step 7

Prepare for any additional requirements dictated in your area. After submitting an application for deputy coroner work, you may need to go through an interview process, pass a series of written test and/or undergo a background check. Most deputy coroners must have a clean past, with no criminal convictions and no troubles with drug or alcohol addiction. Depending upon the location, you may need to pass a psychological evaluation test, and perhaps a physical ability test as well.

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