What Does a Coroner Investigator Do? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A coroner investigator is a law enforcement officer.
A coroner investigator is a law enforcement officer.

A coroner investigator is a law enforcement officer who works with a team of people to determine the cause of death in situations where a death is deemed suspicious. Coroner investigators work under the supervision of a coroner, also known as a medical examiner. People can enter this law enforcement profession from a number of different angles, including experience in the medical profession, experience as a law enforcement officer, or training in criminal justice.

Coroner investigators may examine the body of a victim at the crime scene.
Coroner investigators may examine the body of a victim at the crime scene.

While the medical examiner performs the actual autopsy on the body, the investigator examines the body and the scene of the crime to gather information which may be relevant. He or she helps to move the body and may participate in the autopsy as well. In addition, the investigator takes charge of physical evidence, including the personal belongings of the deceased and samples taken from the deceased, making sure that this evidence is properly cataloged and handled. Coroner investigators are also involved in disposition or release of the body once the coroner's investigation has been concluded.

A coroner may attend autopsies of bodies discovered at sudden death scenes.
A coroner may attend autopsies of bodies discovered at sudden death scenes.

These law enforcement professionals may take photographs of the body and the scene where the body was found, in addition to writing a formal report on the progress of the investigation. Coroner investigators also conduct interviews which are designed to provide insight into the circumstances of a death, and may handle paperwork on behalf of the coroner. They can also be involved in the process of identifying the decedent, contacting next of kin, and handling press inquiries, depending on the organization in the coroner's office they work for.

A coroner may test for the presence of harmful chemicals during an autopsy.
A coroner may test for the presence of harmful chemicals during an autopsy.

Medical professionals such as paramedics and nurses can become a coroner investigator by applying for a job opening, taking a short course to become familiar with law enforcement protocol, and taking an exam to demonstrate their proficiency. Law enforcement officers who are interested in careers in this field can follow a similar route, as can people with degrees in criminal justice.

Medical professionals like paramedics may become coroner investigators.
Medical professionals like paramedics may become coroner investigators.

Certain tasks are limited by law to the medical examiner, but a coroner investigator can have a range of responsibilities and pursue a variety of interests. These professionals are encouraged to attend workshops and conferences dealing with topics which may be of relevance to investigation. Salary depends on the level of experience and grade; the job usually starts at a low grade or class, working his or her way up the ranks to a senior position.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon256546

I'm a 13 year old and I know that they aren't the same thing. A crime scene investigator investigates the crime and the coroner investigates the body.

anon155469

isn't a coroner investigator and a crime scene investigator the same thing?

anon139180

I would like to know what person talks to the family when they come to identify a murdered body?

anon86244

well i think that that is really cool because i want to be one and that explains a lot to me of what i will be working with.

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    • A coroner investigator is a law enforcement officer.
      A coroner investigator is a law enforcement officer.
    • Coroner investigators may examine the body of a victim at the crime scene.
      Coroner investigators may examine the body of a victim at the crime scene.
    • A coroner may attend autopsies of bodies discovered at sudden death scenes.
      A coroner may attend autopsies of bodies discovered at sudden death scenes.
    • A coroner may test for the presence of harmful chemicals during an autopsy.
      A coroner may test for the presence of harmful chemicals during an autopsy.
    • Medical professionals like paramedics may become coroner investigators.
      Medical professionals like paramedics may become coroner investigators.