Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Coroner

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Coroner

Overview: Coroners are elected or appointed officials responsible for investigating deaths to determine what caused them. In addition to performing autopsies, a coroner’s duties include collecting evidence at a crime scene, conducting investigations, speaking to eye witnesses, testifying in court, studying medical records, establishing identities, filling out death certificates, and arranging for the notification of next of kin. The coroner’s duties will be determined by their jurisdiction and their training.

Necessary Training: While many coroners hold a college degree (usually in a medical or science field), it is not a requirement in most jurisdictions. Most will be required to pass a test proving basic necessary knowledge, and it helps if their resumé includes medical or investigative work. Their education, experience, and other factors will determine their official job title, such as that of a medical examiner (physician). Many people in this field start out as deputy coroners and complete an apprenticeship, of sorts, before moving up to the official coroner position.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Empathy, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, reading people, strategic thinking, talking with the dead

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adventurous, analytical, calm, cautious, confident, cooperative, courteous, curious, decisive, diplomatic, discreet, efficient, focused, honest, honorable, intelligent, just, meticulous, objective, observant, organized, passionate, patient, persistent, professional, responsible, sensible, studious

NEGATIVE: Morbid, nosy, obsessive, pushy, suspicious

Sources of Friction: Tension with family members due to one’s 24/7 on-call job, evidence that has been tainted due to inept collection techniques, pressure from influential people to lean a certain way in one’s decisions for a case, suspecting foul play but being unable to prove it, arriving at a crime scene and recognizing the corpse, being unable to determine a definitive cause of death, working in a small jurisdiction and being faced with a case one isn’t qualified to solve, a contentious election, being smeared by a rival, losing an election to a less-qualified candidate, being tempted to tamper with evidence or make an unethical call in an effort to see justice done, having to testify in an emotional or disturbing case, suffering from a mental or physical ailment that impedes one’s ability to do one’s job (memory loss, nerve damage in the fingers, etc.), finding a cause of death that suggests the beginnings of an epidemic

People They Might Interact With: police offers and detectives, other coroners or medical examiners, a deputy coroner, lawyers and judges, public health officials

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: A person in this position who, due to lack of education or opportunity, is unable to perform all the duties associated with the job may begin to feel that they’re unable to live up to their full potential or help people as they’d like to.
  • Esteem and Recognition: A coroner with fewer credentials and job responsibilities may begin to feel inferior to medical examiners or forensic pathologists who are able to do more.
  • Love and Belonging: Many people might look down upon someone who works with dead bodies, believing the job to be morally reprehensible or just gross. If this puts off potential love interests, this need could be impacted.
  • Safety and Security: While precautions should always be in place, contagion could become an issue in certain cases for a coroner who cuts corners or is distracted.

Common Work-Related Settings: Alley, ambulance, backyard, car accident, cheap motel, construction site, courtroom, empty lot, hiking trail, hotel room, juvenile detention center, living room, parking garage, police station, prison cell, run-down apartment, truck stop

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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3 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Coroner

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  2. JOHN T. SHEA says:

    Like morticians, it’s a dying profession…

  3. Geri says:

    When did Coroner become an option as a career, for instance, in the days of Prohibition and Crime…….were there Coroners? I don’t recall ever reading about any, as it seems there were only Undertakers….Morticians?

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