How to Become a Toxicologist

drug pills piled inside of a toxicology lab

Do you find it interesting to see how different chemicals and substances affect human beings as well as their environment? If so, then a toxicology career might be a good option for you. This specialized career field can be rewarding and preparing for it will provide you with skills in chemistry, biology and management. If you are considering this career path, it is important to first learn about what it takes to become a toxicologist. Once you know what it takes to pursue this type of career, you will be ready to begin your journey.

Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

You can begin taking steps toward becoming a toxicologist as early as in high school if you can enroll in science courses and electives. To become a toxicologist, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. After high school, you will want to find a top-rated university where you can earn your bachelor’s degree. While you might not find a degree program dedicated solely to toxicology, you will want to look for a degree program relating to science, specifically biology, chemistry or criminal justice. The areas you study during your time here will provide a great foundation for your future career.

Earn Your Master’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree will prepare you for a variety of jobs relating to toxicology, though you can further increase your chances of getting an excellent job by continuing your education. If you would like to take your education even further, you might consider a PhD program. This will require more time, but it can help open up more opportunities when you begin your job search.

Work In a Laboratory

As a toxicologist, you will be spending some of your time in a research lab. Because of this, it is important to gain real laboratory experience as early as you can. While you are still in school, you can ask your professors if there are any opportunities to apply for internships or other special projects that they are working on or know about. This can help you gain experience in a real toxicology setting while also providing you with networking opportunities. You can also look for internships and other opportunities over the summers when you will have more free time. Even after earning an undergraduate degree in toxicology or a related field (chemistry, biology, biochemistry), you might still consider internships and other opportunities that can help you get started and meet people in the field. Laboratory experience in biotechnology and pharmaceutical spaces can help you become a better candidate for toxicology jobs in the future.

Apply for Toxicology-Related Positions

After earning an undergraduate degree in toxicology or a related field (chemistry, biology, biochemistry), you might gain experience working in a laboratory setting, you will have the skills and training needed to apply to a variety of jobs in this field. When you are just starting, you will be qualified to apply for positions in animal laboratories and facilities, universities, testing centers and various types of government agencies. If you are working in animal labs and facilities, you will be conducting research relating to public health and the environment. If you are working in universities, then you might be responsible for research, teaching or designing coursework. Other toxicology jobs may involve testing various products and services to ensure their safety.

Get Your Certification

While you may not need a license or certification to have a rewarding career in toxicology, you will be able to apply for a wider variety of higher-paying positions in this field if you do become certified. That is why it is a good idea to investigate certifications after graduating and gaining work experience. If you find that you want more opportunities, then you can make yourself eligible by applying for a certification from the American Board of Toxicology or another organization for toxicology.

You can attain the necessary skills to pursue a toxicology career at Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Our programs are designed to help students gain the skills needed to pursue a variety of careers relating to criminal justice, including toxicology. To learn more about our Criminal Justice, Government and Public Administration Degree Programs, click the Request Info button at the top of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.