Professional openings in the field of public health can offer jobs in a number of specialty sciences that have an impact on community welfare.  Public health positions are on the rise in all disciplines and this provides a stable and financially sound career path for medical providers and researchers.  The job of toxicologist is one example of research employment that can be found in the public health sector.

Growth for jobs in public health has also translates to good wages, since the demand for applicants in these positions is so high.  This means that professionals from other industries can find stable salaries while acting in service of the public good.  If you are interested in this combination for job satisfaction, than a career as a toxicologist could be a perfect fit.

What Is A Toxicologist?

A toxicologist is a research scientist who analyzes chemicals that are harmful to human health.  This can include evaluating medications, but may also pertain to environmental toxins such as venoms from animals and pollution in the air, water, or soil.  Toxicologists will also evaluate household and industry substances that may cause harm or illness, and asses safety levels and measures for exposure to these items.

Toxicologists would have the following expectations as a part of their work:

  •   Study the effects of chemicals on human tissue.
  •   Develop protocols for evaluating the overall impact of substances on public health.
  •   Analyze samples and information to form theories of causality.
  •   Report findings to industry manufacturers and health departments.
  •   Devise methods to minimize risk and treat contact in emergencies.
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These professional skills can also help toxicologists to perform their job more effectively:

  •   Analytical thinking:  You will need to be able to look at the results of your research and apply them to real world health scenarios.
  •   Attention to detail:  You must be able to work precisely and accurately.  This will require patience and delicacy.
  •   Lab skills:  For this job, it is critical that you are familiar with advancing lab technologies, including equipment and computer applications, so that you can safely handle and accurately assess your samples.
  •   Observational skills:  You must be able to gain information through watching chemical interactions, but also through seeing physical or behavioral changes in test subjects..

Nature Of The Work

Toxicologists will spend most of their time in a lab environment.  They will analyze samples to determine potency and negative effects on human tissue, as well as conduct trials to observe effects.  It you are participating in clinical research trials, you may be required to come on site to the research facility, or to interact with subjects to gain narrative data.  You will also be required to spend time in your office, correlating your findings and writing reports on your conclusions.

Education And Training

Toxicologists will generally have a doctorate degree.  Because of the nature of the research they conduct, many toxicologists will take pre-med and medical courses and complete their residency in pathology before moving in to post graduate work in toxicology.  Subjects such as medical ethics and genetics would also be appropriate to this line of work.

After completing the three to five year residency, candidates will also need to pass their medical board exam in order to become licensed.  This is necessary to practice as a doctor, but also to work with pharmaceutical clinical trials.

Toxicologists are in the upper end of wages for public health positions.  Some may start at an entry level salary of as much as $67,000 per year.  The average wage for this profession is around $96,000, and the upper 10% makes well over $150,000 per year.  This not only offers good incentive to start on this career path, but also to advance.

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Opportunities for toxicologists in the public health sector are also on the rise.  Statistical projections see a 13% increase in employment between the years 2012 and 2022.  This translates into stability for the position but also good chances of transfer and leveling up.  If the idea of promoting public health and safety will earning a good salary sound attractive to you, then a career as a public health toxicologist could be a great opportunity.

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