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What is a Toxinologist?
Toxinologists study toxins, such as venoms and poisons, and the living organisms that produce them, including plants, fungi, microbes and various animals. They research the chemical structure and functions of toxins and explore the biological activities of toxin-producing organisms, like scorpions, snakes and spiders.
A toxinologist's work might focus specifically on improving ways to treat victims of venomous snakebites or jellyfish stings, or he or she might research ways toxins can be purified and cloned for use as medical therapies in patients recovering from strokes or heart attacks or those fighting cancer.
|Educational Requirements||Doctoral degree|
|Job Skills||Analytical skills, problem-solving abilities, critical-thinking skills, diligence|
|Median Salary (2016)*||$82,180 (all biochemists and biophysicists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||11% (all biochemists and biophysicists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
While some entry-level work might be available for those with a bachelor's or master's degree, most toxinologist positions will require a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in biology, biochemistry or a related field. Another option is to earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) by completing medical school and earning state licensure. Regardless of the education path they choose, prospective toxinologists should choose a program that incorporates extensive laboratory coursework.
Toxinologists need analytical skills so they can conduct accurate, precise experiments in the lab, along with problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to help them formulate answers to tough scientific queries. They also need to exercise diligence since they'll be working with potentially dangerous organisms and their toxins.
Career Outlook and Salary
Career outlook and salary information specific to toxinologists isn't available, but they can be included in the broader category of biochemists and biophysicists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for biochemists and biophysicists should be faster than average, at a projected rate of 11% from 2016-2026. These professionals earned an average annual salary of $82,180 as of May 2016, based on BLS statistics.
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