Forensic Toxicologist

Could this be the job for you?

What Does It Take To Be A Forensic Toxicologist

What would you do?

As a Forensic Toxicologist you would study and test the affects that certain chemicals have on human tissues. You'd also observe what chemicals look like when present and how much of a certain chemical creates a reaction in humans. You would then apply this knowledge to determine if there were any chemicals used at a crime scene. This may include:
  • Alcohol
  • Prescription or illegal medications
  • Poison
  • Gases
  • Etc.
If necessary the forensic toxicologist must be able to state their findings in court to a jury in terms that they will understand.
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Working conditions

Forensic Toxicologists spend their time in labs specific to drug testing. It requires them to sit and sometimes stand for long periods of time and also to have control over their fine motor skills.
Along with the physical parts of this job you must be willing to follow instructions precisely. They are also given information from the crimes that may be challenging to deal with emotionally.
The usually work 40 hour weeks, but work extra depending on the complexity of their assignment.
Finally, you have to be able to handle pressure and stress from others. When samples pile up you must take your time and complete the tasks efficiently but correctly.
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Personal characteristics

In order to do this job effectively a person should be:
  • Patient
  • Calm under pressure
  • Willing to learn new things
  • Cooperate well with others
  • Think creatively but logically
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Earnings and Job Outlook

  • The salary ranges $34,527 - $64,578.
  • Excellent outlook
Overtime you may have an opportunity to advance in this career depending on how you perform with the smaller jobs handed to you. The higher you are the larger the task may be.

Education requirements

Most forensic toxicologists attend school for 4-8 year. You have to enjoy learning and learn quickly since new methods are developed constantly.
Degrees you may have:
  • Chemistry
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Or other science fields.
Along with education you must have experience working in a toxicology lab.
Note that if you choose a forensic toxicologist master's program that it is recognized by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC)
Echaore-McDavid, Susan, and Richard A. McDavid. "Forensic Toxicologist." Career Opportunities in Forensic Science. New York: Ferguson, 2008. 90-92. Print.