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Job Description of a Staff Toxicologist

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a staff toxicologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and employment options to find out if this is the career for you.

A staff toxicologist researches chemical toxicity and how it affects living organisms, their habitat, and the environment. These scientists often perform tests and experiments on living animals, as well as on the tissue of both humans and animals. While a doctoral degree might help to increase employability in this field, to secure work as a staff toxicologist a bachelor's degree in an area such as biology or chemistry is generally sufficient.

Essential Information

Staff toxicologists improve public health by studying the effects of toxic chemicals on living things and their environments. Staff toxicologists may find employment within a variety of industries, government agencies or research institutions. Toxicologists usually receive a bachelor's degree in chemistry, biology, or a similar field, while some individuals choose to pursue a doctoral degree.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, or similar field typically required, though some candidates pursue doctoral degrees
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% for all medical scientists
Median Salary (2016)** $74,116 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **Salary.com

Staff Toxicologist Job Description

Staff toxicologists analyze chemical effects on living things and the environment. They want to know how toxic certain chemicals are and what those toxic effects do in the home or work place, in food and to the ecosystem. Staff toxicologists experiment on laboratory animals, as well as on human and animal tissue, to find out if a chemical causes cancer, what it does to the body, what happens when it's inhaled and other aspects of toxic exposure. The goal is to provide the public with information on how to safely handle these chemicals, which include medicines, food additives, consumer products and environmental contaminants.

Employment Options

According to the Society of Toxicology (SOT), industries that develop pharmaceuticals, consumer products, chemicals and other products hire 47% of toxicologists to analyze the safety of their products (www.toxicology.org). They are also employed at academic and research institutions as researchers and teachers. Another employment option is with consulting firms, where the toxicologist might counsel private and public businesses on using toxic chemicals. Staff toxicologists are needed by several federal, local and state agencies, where duties include aiding in chemical regulation, interpreting and evaluating studies on chemicals and providing expert testimony in court cases and hearings.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to Salary.com in November 2016, toxicologists earned a median salary of $74,116, annually. During the 2014-2024 decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expected an 8% increase in the need for medical scientists, which includes staff toxicologists. And, those holding doctoral degrees were predicted to have better job prospects (www.bls.gov).

Some of the aims of the research that staff toxicologists conduct may be to gain new insight into possible chemical causes of cancer or how the body reacts to certain chemicals. This toxicological research is then used to educate the public about safety measures regarding chemicals in items such as food, medicine, or other products. A staff toxicologist often works in an academic setting, research center or for a consulting firm.

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