Most labs require at least a bachelor’s degree in toxicology, chemistry, or a related subject.
To become a toxicologist in many countries, including the United States, you will need to obtain a medical degree or bachelor of science degree and study for at least two more years. The two additional years of study in addition to the bachelor’s degree, if you don’t have a medical degree, will need to focus as much as possible on toxicology training. Courses must include classes and training in subjects such as analytical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science, and pharmacology. You will also need to acquire strong skills in written and oral communication, as well as basic but solid computer skills, because toxicologists often use computer applications to carry out their work tasks.
Toxicologists who enjoy working with animals can get a job at a veterinary hospital.
If you become a toxicologist, you can have a career in many fields, including forensics or in the pharmaceutical, occupational, clinical, industrial, and ecotoxicological fields. Toxicologists plan and conduct laboratory and field studies and experiments to identify and assess the impact of toxic substances and radiation on life. Their studies and findings reveal how a toxic material affects people, animals, plants and the environment. They also advise and teach how the use of such substances can be minimized or completely avoided.
In certain criminal cases, a toxicologist report is required to convict someone of a felony.
Some other things you should consider before becoming a toxicologist are the typical tasks you may have to perform, depending on where and what organization or company you work for. You may be involved in liaising with regulatory authorities to ensure compliance with the laws in your region governing the safe handling, disposal and prevention of toxic materials. It would be possible for you to get employment in a poison control center, a factory or plant, as well as in many other industries. If you are a physician or veterinarian who has received training in what is generally considered a toxicology course, you may choose to work in a hospital or clinic, including veterinary clinics and hospitals.
A person must become a forensic chemist to become a forensic toxicologist.
Another very important factor to keep in mind when considering whether you want to become a toxicologist is whether you have strong convictions against the suffering that you may be asked to inflict on laboratory animals. Even if you don’t believe in laboratory animal experiments, you can still become a laboratory toxicologist, but you may not have as many opportunities available to you as someone without these convictions. High school students interested in a career in toxicology are strongly encouraged to take as many courses as possible in biology, chemistry, environmental science, and mathematics.