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Pathologists' Assistant

Pathologists’ assistants perform gross dissection and examination of surgical specimens. They also assist with autopsies. They work under the direct supervision of pathologists.

  • Avg. Salary $46,889.00
  • Avg. Wage $28.74
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 6,000
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Pathology Assistant, Pathology Scientist, Pathology Technician, Pathology Technologist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Pathologists Assistants (3211.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Medical Laboratory Technologists and Pathologists Assistants (D211) 
  • 2011 NOC: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants (3212) 
  • 2016 NOC: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants (3212) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Pathologists' Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pathologists Assistants

Interest in assisting pathologists to prepare for autopsies by obtaining patients' medical records and arranging for radiographic examinations; and in cleaning and maintaining autopsy, surgical and other equipment


Interest in precision working with autopsy and surgical equipment to weigh and photograph organs and specimens; may perform the duties of a medical laboratory technologist in some hospitals


Interest in compiling findings from chemical analyses of collected tissue specimens

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2018

The role of pathologists’ assistants is to:

  • assess, describe, dissect, and sample human tissue specimens for histologic examination
  • assist with specialized processes and procedures (such as frozen section or lymphoma protocol)
  • eviscerate and sample tissue during autopsy
  • perform imaging and mapping of surgical tissue specimens
  • perform quality control and quality assurance practices
  • maintain records as required
  • manage specimens (sort, retrieve, file, and discard)
  • teach and train other medical professionals
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Hours of work may vary. Pathologists’ assistants may work full time, part time, or casual hours. In diagnostic clinical labs, they may work rotating day, evening, and night shifts. This may include weekends and holidays.

Pathologists’ assistants work in lab settings. They may spend a lot of time standing or sitting. They may perform many repetitive tasks. They must follow safe work procedures. This reduces the risk of exposure to work-related hazards (biological, chemical or radiation).

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Pathologists’ assistants need:

  • normal colour vision
  • people skills
  • fine motor skills
  • speaking, listening, and writing skills

They also need the ability to:

  • work well with all health care providers
  • follow instructions
  • solve problems
  • be well organized
  • prioritize tasks
  • adjust to changes in workflow
  • apply change management skills
  • work with deceased patients and biological materials
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree in science (M.Sc.) from an accredited Pathologists’ Assistant program. However, they may consider applicants with a bachelor’s degree in science (B.Sc.). This is most likely if the applicant has training and experience as a medical laboratory technologist or histotechnologist.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

There is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, the Canadian Certification Council of Pathologists’ Assistants (CCCPA) is developing a Canadian certification process. It will require a master’s degree as a Pathologists’ Assistant. Interested applicants are encouraged to follow this route.

In general, membership with the Section of Pathologists’ Assistants within the Canadian Association of Pathologists (CAP) is preferred.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Pathologists’ assistants often work in hospital labs. They may also work in:

  • private medical labs
  • public health labs
  • a medical examiner’s office.

Pathologists’ assistants are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3212: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants. In Alberta, 91% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors, including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 3212: Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 243 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the 243 new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Alberta’s population is aging. Strain on the health care system is increasing. As a result, demand for pathologists’ assistants is expected to keep growing. Many positions are opening up as baby boomers retire and new positions are created.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.00 $40.00 $25.22 $22.73
Overall $24.62 $40.00 $28.74 $27.00
Top $27.23 $45.00 $32.37 $28.84

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Canadian Certification Council of Pathologists’ Assistants website:

College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Alberta website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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