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What is Toxicology?
Toxicology is an interdisciplinary branch of medicine, biology, and chemistry focused on the adverse effects of chemicals on living systems. The field of toxicology also analyzes the negative effects of physical, biological, and chemical agents in a biological system and the associated damage in a living system.
A toxicologist will spend extensive time understanding the correlation between dosage and reaction(s) on an organism given variables such as gender, age, species, health, individual characteristics, and environment. Thus, having an extensive background in biology and anatomy couples with pharmacology is a vital asset to any toxicologist.
Top Toxicology Degrees
A degree program in toxicology will focus on the metabolic biology, genetics, and physiological of toxicants as related to human health and diseases. The depth and breadth of this field of study can make for an exciting career path.
Students and professionals in this field of study work hard to understand an individual’s metabolism. In addition, work is done to understand how a person’s metabolism is regulated and the interplay between disease, metabolism, and diet.
To help you determine which degree program is best for you, we have created summaries of each pathway along with means to connect with accredited colleges and universities below.
Toxicology Bachelor Degrees
A bachelor degree for toxicology students will be conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS). Bachelor degree programs will typically take upwards of four-years of full time study to complete. Students take a combination of science-rich classes with general education classes to obtain a well-rounded education and develop a set of integrative thinking skills.
General education classes will typically include history, English composition, economics, statistics, psychology, and philosophy. Core classes in toxicology will often include the following science-rich classes:
- Nutrient Function and Metabolism
- Organic Chemistry
- Molecular Toxicogenomic
- Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Biopharmaceutical Chemistry
- Medical Ethics
- Pharmacologic Toxicology
- Analytic and Qualitative Tox
- Risk Analysis
- Human Diet
- Medical Nutrition Therapy
- Nutrition in the Community
- Biology, Statistics, Chemistry
Toxicology Master Degrees
Master degrees in toxicology can be earned as a Master of Science (MS) from top colleges around the country. Many MS degree programs are customized by students by selecting an array of electives versus a rigid group of predetermined courses.
Students will have access to cutting edge technology and learn via a series of labs, lectures, seminars, case studies, and research. Graduate students can expect a master’s degree program to take around two-years to complete at most colleges and universities.
A large portion of master’s degree includes research, writing, and presenting a thesis project. Thesis projects are intended to add substantive value to the existing body of knowledge in the field of study.
Toxicology Doctorate Degrees
Doctorate degrees in toxicology are conferred as a PhD. With a heavy emphasis on research, students can expect to spend a substantial amount of time in a lab blending book knowledge with hands-on learning.
Many complex diseases cannot be attributed solely to genetics thus leaving scientists to find the root cause of environmental factors. In fact, chemicals have been shown to cause a number of diseases such as cancer, chronic inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and atherosclerosis. As such, scientists work to understand how environmental factors combine to affect individuals and groups of people to help mitigate their overall effects.
PhD students will take a number of rigorous classes while preparing their dissertation project. Dissertations are multi-year projects that end with a presentation to a panel of experts in the field.
In terms of educational requirements, toxicology majors will have taken specific courses in this learning domain. Apart from the general education requirements, students will take a clustering of science classes such as the following:
- Biomedical Engineering
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Medical Microbiology
- Biomedical Science
Employment in Toxicology
Toxicology majors will have garnered key medical knowledge and skills during college. The specialized knowledge can be used to step into a career in toxicology or adjacent medical fields. Direct-hire arrangements allow students to prepare for a career with a specific employer after graduation.
Majors that work in the medical community may spent substantive time performing research. Laboratory research can be independently performed or as part of a clinical trial. A clinical trial will include a team of medical professionals to create a viable trail and willing patients to be part of the test. By comparing two or more groups of patients in a trail, toxicologists can help decipher the efficacy of a drug after analyzing key attributes of each individual.
Meanwhile. students may be interested in similar employment opportunities that utilize this knowledge. Examples of such careers include teaching, research, genome specializations, immunology, virology, biomedical engineering, microbiology, and epidemiology.
Top Careers in Toxicology
Finding a job after graduation will typically be in a handful of industries in a wide array of positions. The industries that are most likely to employ a trained toxicologist include:
- Industry: Companies known for developing an array of products & performing research for food, biotechnical, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies.
- Healthcare: This filed includes hospitals, clinics, research firms, dentists, optometry, biotechnology, dietician, pharmacy and a wide variety of other healthcare-related positions. Many students leverage a degree in toxicology to launch an academic career as a pre-med student on a path to become a doctor.
- Education: Graduates often find themselves teaching chemical, biological, nutritional and food sciences. In addition to teaching and writing papers, graduates may perform deep research to advance the field of study in meaningful ways.
- Governmental: Working for a variety of state and federal government agencies in a research or policy capacity may be of interest to students. From working for the FDA to the EPA, jobs are in demand for passionate and well-trained graduates.
Toxicology Salary & Job Growth
Mean annual income for toxicologists is $96,070 or $46.19 an hour. The top ten percent average over $160,000 a year with the bottom twenty-five percent at approximately fifty-eight thousand dollars a year. Top paying states in toxicology include New Jersey and New Hampshire, followed by Connecticut and Maryland. The largest employers of toxicology majors are R&D firms, colleges, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and physicians.
Toxicologist jobs are forecast to be plentiful in the coming decade. In fact, the BLS estimates an employment spike of 13% in near term. Job growth of this pace will create approximately 17,000 new jobs in this occupation.
Resources for Toxicology Majors
- AAAS - American Association for the Advancement of Science
- ACS - American Chemical Society
- AFMR - American Federation for Medical Research
- AGA - American Gastroenterological Association
- ASCB - American Society for Cell Biology
- AAB - American Association of Bioanalysts
- ASIP -American Society for Investigative Pathology