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Board Certification (advanced)

Board Certification is available to experienced Registered medicolegal death investigators who prove their mastery of all aspects of medicolegal death investigation. In order to be eligible to apply, you must:

  • Currently be certified at the ABMDI Registry Level and in good standing for a minimum of six months.
  • Have at least an Associates degree from a post secondary institution recognized by a national educational accrediting agency.
  • Must currently be employed by a Medical Examiner/Coroner jurisdiction or equivalent federal authority and have the experience and responsibility to independently conduct medicolegal death scene investigations or supervise such investigations at time of application and examination.
    1. For applicants to "independently conduct a medicolegal death scene investigation," as referenced above, refers to the death investigator performing death scene investigations in person on location at the death scene. This includes but is not limited to completing a body examination (e.g., document injuries and personally assess postmortem changes), photographing the scene, completing an investigative report, etc.
    2. For applicants to “supervise such investigations" means that the applicant must have prior experience independently conducting medicolegal death scene investigations, as referenced in this document.
    3. Applicants in reserve positions would not qualify as being currently employed as defined above unless they are currently activated.
  • Have a minimum of 4,000 hours of death investigation experience in the past six years.

    NOTE: If you are currently employed by a M.E./Coroner's office full time, you will have accumulated 4,000 hours in two years. If you are employed part time, you must have accumulated 4,000 hours within the past six years.
    "On-Call" time accumulates as follows:
    1. Each on-call hour = 0.25 hours (maximum 2,500 hours)
    2. Investigation of a natural death, no scene investigation = 1 hour
    3. Investigation of a non-natural death, no scene investigation = 2.5 hours
    4. Investigation of a death with scene investigation = 5 hours

Application Process

Applications are available upon receipt of an application request form. The $100 non-refundable application fee must accompany the request form. Application materials must be completed in their entirety and returned to the ABMDI office at least 30 days prior to the desired examination date.

Included in the Board Certified application packet:

  1. Application Form (Code of Ethics included)
  2. Employment Verification Form (requiring notarization by a third-party notary)
  3. Forensic Science Specialist Reference form
  4. Administrator/Supervisor Reference form
  5. Law Enforcement Reference form

In addition to the forms above, you must submit either a copy of an Associates Degree or a letter from the Registrar's Office of your college or university verifying your college degree. Transcripts are not necessary; all we need is verification of your degree.

There is an 18-month time limit to complete the application process. If, after 18-months, you have not completed all application requirements and scheduled an examination, your Board Certification file will become inactive. You will have to reapply and pay the application fee again in order to start the process.

Board Certification Examination

The scope of knowledge for the Board Certified exam will rely heavily on the applicant's cumulative experience and further training in medicolegal death investigation. It can include independent study and attendance at workshops, seminars, and other training venues. As a minimum, and given that the examination is broad based and encompasses the Forensic Sciences, the applicant is required to have an Associate Degree.

The 5.5 hour examination is administered online at local colleges, universities and approved testing centers. It is divided into two parts:

  1. A Performance Section--This portion consists of three medicolegal death scene scenarios. You will be asked to:
    1. Write a narrative description of the scene in the space provided using medical terminology.
    2. Develop a set of questions that could be used to interview witnesses and/or suspects.
    3. Develop a list of pieces of potential evidence.

    All answers should be based solely on information provided in the case scenario and depicted in the scene photographs. Since you only have 30 minutes for each case, you DO NOT need to interpret findings, solve the case or develop a complete case report.

  2. A Multiple Choice Section--This portion consists of 240 multiple choice test items. You have up to 4 hours to complete this, which is divided into the following 8 sections:
    1. Investigating Specific Death Scenes
    2. Investigating Multiple Fatalities
    3. Investigating Atypical Death Scenes
    4. Investigating Institutional Deaths
    5. Demonstrating Leadership Skills
    6. Demonstrating Legal Knowledge
    7. Communication Skills
    8. Demonstrating Advanced Forensic Science Knowledge
    These sections are based on the Advanced Skills List included in your application packet.

Successful Completion of the Board Certification Examination

Once you pass the Board Certification examination, you become a Fellow of the ABMDI (F-ABMDI). Certificants are issued a certification number that potential employers can request for verification of certification.

Board Certification Recertification

In order to continue Board Certification status, the Fellow must:

  1. Be in good standing (current in all fees)
  2. Reaffirm in writing the Code of Ethics
  3. Demonstrate continued competency (completed work verification form or see below)
  4. Submit 45 hours of approved continuing education in the continuing education folder provided to the Fellow upon successful completion of the examination

The ABMDI is accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB), which requires proof of continued competency in order to be recertified. Continued competency can be demonstrated by current employment or by examination. The recertification examination will be required if you are not currently working for a medical examiner/coroner jurisdiction or equivalent federal authority with the responsibility of investigating deaths.

Board Certification Fees

  • Non-refundable Application Fee: $100
  • Non-refundable Examination Fee: $400
  • *Additional fee of $50 if paper/pencil test requested.
  • After certification, yearly maintenance fee: $50

The ABMDI accepts Master Card, Visa, or American Express. Make checks and money orders payable to ABMDI. Fees must be paid in U.S. dollars.

Note: There is an 18 month time limit to complete the application process and sit for the exam. There is a "wait-time" of 30 days between test and retest.

The American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators complies with federal and state disability laws and makes reasonable accommodations for applicants with documented disabilities.