What does a Toxicologist do?
A toxicologist is a scientist who tests bodily fluids and tissue samples during autopsies to determine the presence of toxins or chemicals. They work in laboratories and use various methods to locate toxic levels of drugs or other poisons within the body. If it is determined harmful agents are present, a toxicologist will measure the levels found and identify if it likely contributed to the death of the patient. Additionally, many toxicologists work to help solve criminal cases and will testify in court on behalf of their lab findings.
Advanced education is required to become a toxicologist and a graduate degree in forensic science, chemistry, toxicology or related field is necessary. Depending upon the state of employment, a professional certification through the American Board of Toxicology may be required. Meticulous attention to detail and strong analytical skills are required to excel in the position of a toxicologist.
- Identify and test a proposed scientific hypothesis by applying analytical examination techniques to measure toxins
- Create reports and author reviews of research papers and findings
- Oversee risk assessments to identify possible harmful side effects and outcomes
- Conduct examinations using biomedical and chemical instruments and maintain the samples as well as possible for further testing
- Ensure the safe storage and use of chemicals and laboratory instruments
- Collaborate and share research and study findings with other staff members
- Test bodily fluids and body tissue samples to isolate and measure toxin levels present
- Comply with state and federal laws regarding privacy, safety and quality control within the lab
- Graduate degree in forensic science, chemistry, toxicology or related field is necessary
- Meticulous attention to detail when performing examinations and tests
- Depending upon the state of employment, a professional certification through the American Board of Toxicology may be required
- Experience working on cases involving environmental pollution and the measurable impact of chemical spills and disasters
- An organized and detailed approach to testing is essential
- Ability to review and interpret industry-specific data
- Experience using required instruments and equipment safely and correctly
- Personal integrity and accountability are essential due to the nature of the position
- Maintain a professional level of patient privacy in accordance with HIPAA procedures
Average Base Pay
Toxicologist Career Path
Learn how to become a Toxicologist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Years of Experience Distribution
“government clients that are enjoyable to work with”
“nice people to work with”
“Good work life balance”
“I was not given good training opportunities to broaden my skills.”
“Terrible work life balance.”
“Great corporate environment to start your professional career.”
“Some of the best training you can find for forensic toxicology.”
“good to have one with a stable career.”
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of a Toxicologist
When working as a Toxicologist, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are Evaluating, PBPK, Conducting, Responses and Excellent Communication.
- Environmental Specialist
- Environmental Scientist
- Safety Manager
- EHS Specialist