How to Become a Forensic Toxicologist – It is harder to see and hear, but more people are dying from drug overdoses now than before.
People died because they took too many drugs, both the ones made illegally and the ones prescribed by a doctor. These drugs include meth, cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and prescription painkillers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths caused by synthetic opioids increased by over 1,000 percent from 2013 to 2019.
We can help prevent these deaths by providing detailed autopsy reports. The most effective way to make sure things are correct is by using skilled scientists who study toxins.
What is Forensic Toxicology
Forensic Toxicology is when scientists examine samples from a person’s body to see if they have any drugs or harmful substances in them.
Forensic toxicologists figure out if drugs are in a person’s body and also how many drugs there are and what kind they are.
They can also figure out if the quantity of drugs is dangerous or safe. Forensic toxicologists can accurately determine almost everything about drugs.
The reports from forensic toxicologists can help figure out how a drug might affect a person’s thinking, physical abilities, sickness, or even cause their death.
Forensic toxicology is a field that keeps getting bigger because of new drugs, tools, and tests used in investigations.
Furthermore, forensic toxicologists are highly sought after because they constantly work on finding new ways to detect substances and improve their tools.
If you’ve ever watched crime shows on TV, you probably saw these people solving crimes without knowing they were forensic toxicologists.
Forensic Toxicology Job Growth
In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts forensic toxicologists in the same category as forensic science technicians.
Although they don’t give specific information about careers and salaries for forensic toxicologists, they do give information for forensic science technicians.
They think that these professionals will have more job opportunities and a higher chance of getting hired between 2021 and 2031.
The possibilities for growth in this job are better than most others. They also expect that 2,500 new jobs will become available each year in this field for the next ten years.
Forensic Toxicology Salary
Forensic science technicians on average made about $61,930 a year. The lowest 10% of technicians earned around $37,670 and the top 90% earned around $103,430. Their usual rate per hour was $29. 78
This pay information is from a 2021 BLS report. According to Salary. com, forensic toxicologists made an average salary of $78,163 in March 2023.
Wages and salaries can change depending on how many years you have been doing the job, how much education you have, who you work for, any special certificates you have, and where you work.
How to Become a Forensic Toxicologist?
1. Get A Bachelors Degree
To become a forensic toxicologist, you need to complete certain education and certification qualifications.
To qualify for education, the candidate needs to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as forensic science, biology, or physical science.
There are lots of colleges that teach forensic science. You can find a full list of these schools in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
2. Obtain A Masters Degree
Some students decide to get a bachelor’s degree in forensic science and then go on to get a master’s degree in toxicology or forensic toxicology.
The National Institute for Standards and Technology says that forensic toxicology programs provide specialized areas of study like human performance toxicology, investigating deaths after they occur (postmortem), and testing drugs for forensic purposes.
3. Practical Training
Although these three branches of forensic toxicology are related, they offer different job opportunities.
In a forensic toxicology program, students are advised to do as many internships and fellowships as they can to get a lot of practical training.
In this job, the more knowledge you have, the better you will do.
4. Appropriate Certifications and Skills
Becoming a forensic toxicologist requires education and certification, but there are additional things to consider. Forensic scientists who study toxins should have these abilities.
You need to pay attention to details.
Should understand and care about the feelings and struggles of victims and their families.
Must have a good knowledge of natural science and scientific methods.
Be able to look at evidence without bias.
You should get along well with public health agencies and law enforcement.
Many schools have online programs for studying forensic science or forensic toxicology.
Online programs for forensic toxicology are perfect for people who are already working in this field.
They can keep working and gaining experience while getting a degree in forensic toxicology. You can do everything in the program online, except for internships.
A Forensic Toxicologist Daily Life
Forensic toxicology career is thrilling, difficult, and fulfilling. A forensic toxicologist’s day is always different, even though they have many similar tasks every day.
They are the experts who gather samples of tissues and body fluids during autopsies for testing substances like drugs and other chemicals.
A lot of these examples are used in looking into crimes that happened at a certain location.
Unlike crime scene investigators, who physically go to the places where crimes occur, forensic toxicologists do not visit crime scenes. They do their job in labs or where the examination of dead bodies is done.
Forensic toxicologists check for the existence of different substances such as illegal drugs, alcohol, harmful gases, metals, prescribed medications, and various poisons.
They also figure out if the poisons were done on purpose by the person themselves or if it was someone else’s fault.
Even though they don’t usually work with the police all the time, they do spend some time with them on different cases. They might also need to go to court to tell what they know.
Forensic scientists who study toxins use special tools and tests to find out their results. They also work with crime investigators because their work is closely connected.
Most forensic toxicologists work for organizations that do drug tests, help the police, or support government doctors.
However, some people may have jobs in privately-owned medical centers, research facilities, or educational institutions.
Their daily tasks include doing the following things.
- Doing tests to find out if there are harmful substances in someone’s hair, blood, breath, and body parts.
- Evaluating the things that influence and determine how and why someone dies.
- We use advanced tools and equipment in medical and chemical research.
- Collaborating with people who investigate deaths and examine bodies to determine how chemicals may have affected the cause of death.
- Giving testimony as an expert witness
- Following quality control, safety, and other administrative rules.
- Recording everything they discover and adding it to the computer system.
- Talking to other people who are helping with the situation.
Forensic Toxicology Certification
Forensic toxicologists do not have to be licensed or certified by law, but many choose to get professional certification to improve their resume and show their dedication and expertise in this field.
Many bosses like to hire forensic toxicologists who have a certification. The American Board of Toxicology is a group that gives official recognition to people who qualify in the field.
Before you can get certified, you need to meet one of these qualifications.
To be qualified, you need to have worked in toxicology for ten years or more and have a bachelor’s degree.
You need to have worked in toxicology for at least seven years and have a master’s degree.
You need to have worked in toxicology for at least three years and have a doctoral degree.