Science, Technology & Environment
Toxicologists study the potential risks and harmful effects of chemicals, biological substances and radiation.
What does a Toxicologist do?
Toxicologists study the potential risks and harmful effects of toxins such as chemicals, biological substances and radiation on living organisms, including people.
As a toxocologist, you would:
- design, plan and conduct controlled experiments and trials
- use appropriate analytical techniques to identify and quantify toxins
- analyse and interpret data from experiments
- carry out field studies
- study relevant literature
- write reports, reviews and papers to share research findings
- perform risk assessments to determine the likelihood of harmful effects
- help establish regulations to protect humans, animals and the environment
- collaborate with other scientific and technical staff
- act as an expert witness or give evidence in court.
Key skills and interests
To become a toxicologist, you would need:
- a high level of ability and interest in science and research
- the ability to concentrate for long periods
- a good level of accuracy and attention to detail
- good problem-solving ability and logical thinking skills
- strong communication skills
- the ability to take responsibility for making decisions.
Working hours and conditions
You would usually work standard hours, Monday to Friday. You may also be expected to work evening and weekend shifts or be on-call.
You would mainly work in very clean and sometimes sterile environments in a laboratory setting. You would be required to wear protective clothing.
Toxicologists work in a range of areas and industries including research in academic institutions, government agencies, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food, hospitals and environmental management.
How to become an Toxicologist?
Entry Level Education
To become a toxicologist you usually have to study science, forensics or medical laboratory science, with a major in toxicology, at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Students and graduates of relevant courses may be eligible for membership of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists.
Employment of toxicologists is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Employment of toxicologists should grow as a result of expanded research and technological advances enabling increased and more accurate testing for toxic substances.