How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Toxicologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $93,730
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.2%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

A toxicologist is a medical scientist who specializes in the study of toxins and venoms, most notably their detection and subsequent treatment. Specific objectives include product testing and safety evaluation, consulting and research in both the academic and private sector.


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What is a Toxicologist?

Toxicologists must possess particular qualities and an array of skills to adequately perform under the pressure that comes from operating in the theater of human life. They are typically studious, detail-oriented individuals with superb critical thinking skills who are able to communicate their research succinctly and expertly to convey the meaning of their work to the lay person and expert alike. The ability to function within a team setting or in isolation is crucial. Despite the pressure that naturally arises from working within the broader medical field, job satisfaction is rated quite highly, a result of impactful work and compensation that leans towards the higher end of the spectrum.

Toxicologists typically perform the following duties:

  • The planning, design and execution of trials and experiments
  • Analyze medical samples and relevant data to identify and quantify toxins, pathogens or diseases.
  • Operate as an expert witness in court, giving evidence, summarizing research
  • Administrative action, including supervising staff and managing laboratories
  • Manage, design and operate studies to investigate human reaction to toxicity and appropriate methods to treat and/or prevent them
  • Prepare, write and present research grant proposals and apply for funding from the appropriate nonprofit organizations, government agencies and corporations
  • Analyze, sort and standardize drug potency and dosage to allow for manufacturing and distribution of drugs and medicinal compounds suitable for the general population

Under the umbrella arena of toxins and venoms, toxicologists study the damaging impact of industrial and household chemicals, drugs and various other identifiably or potentially poisonous substances. The safety of drugs available on the market, safe dosage limits and medical treatments for patients is the paramount concern for toxicologists, who utilize a multitude of techniques and methods to isolate and identify substances, chemicals that are toxic and to make a determination on the potential harm they might inflict on people.

Toxicologists are as likely to work in teams as they are by themselves with little to no supervision. Investigative methods such as clinical trials are supremely common in their research. In a classic example of a clinical trial, patients will agree to help determine if a particular treatment, whether isolated or comprising a combination of drugs and/or other medical treatments, will compare favorably to existing studies. Upon completion, toxicologists will typically publish their findings in medical journals.

They usually work in laboratories and offices. A large portion of their time is spent analyzing and studying data and writing reports. It is quite common to work with chemicals and biological samples, and as such, precautions must be taken due to the dangerous work environment.

Many toxicologists’ work is designed primarily (or solely) to benefit the company they are employed by, rather than to accommodate their own particular interests and predilections. This can remove the challenging nature of raising outside funds to finance their own research, but it can be challenging in its own right for scientists.


Jobs for toxicologists are expected to increase by slightly more than 20% in the next ten years. This is largely due to an increase in funding for research in biological science and biotechnology, as well as an increase in demand for basic medical research.


Government agencies, business, nonprofit and universities rely upon toxicologists to provide relevant services.  Additionally, many toxicologists accountants are self-employed and offer consulting services to individuals and various other entities. The most common employers are hospitals, the environmental protection agency, pharmaceutical companies, universities, forensic labs and private research organization.

The federal government is a major source of funding for all medical research, not just within toxicology. The level of federal funding will continue to impact the standing of toxicologists going forward, not just in terms of overall employment figures but also in the renewal of research grants.

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How To Become a Toxicologist

A bachelors degree is the minimum level of education required to become a toxicologist, though it is far more common for those who pursue a career to continue on to the university level and earn a PhD. At the graduate school level, coursework typically includes studying biochemistry, pharmacology and molecular biology.

Graduate degrees include the Master of Toxicology, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. Graduate students can choose a specialty within their degree program, such as forensic, environmental, ecological or veterinary toxicology. The majority of graduate students poduce original research in their area of specialization, such as environmental, forensic or veterinary toxicology.

It is not particularly common for Toxicologist to need licenses or certifications, although for those practicing medicine on patients within clinical trials or in a private practice will need a license to practice as a physician, the exact requirements of which differ from state to state.

Toxicologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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National Hourly Wage

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How do Toxicologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Toxicologist's can make an average annual salary of $93,730, or $45 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $57,640 or $28 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #82 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Toxicologists

  • 61.7%   Doctorate
  • 28.9%   Masters
  • 7.5%   Bachelors
  • 0.5%   Associates
  • 0.9%   College
  • 0.3%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Toxicologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 8,900 jobs for a total of 116,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.2% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #268 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Toxicologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 37,100 2,500 3%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 19,400 800 1%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 10,700 800 1%

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