Skills Needed to Become a Toxicologist

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A toxicologist explores the effects of chemicals on living organisms. Toxicologists answer an array of scientific questions by studying the properties of chemicals that humans and animals are exposed to, and they use what they learn to determine the safe and most effective level of exposure to those chemicals.

Early Skills to Develop

  • If you are a high school student interested in toxicology, build your leadership skills by being involved in clubs and science fairs. Work on your communication skills, and learn a foreign language, which is a valuable skill in an increasingly global world. Study chemistry, biology, physics and computer sciences, and develop an attention to detail. A job as a part-time research assistant is another good way to get your foot in the door of this industry.

College Career Skills

  • In college, you should major in biology or chemistry if your school does not offer a toxicology major, according to the Society of Toxicology website. Doing a student research project or working part-time in a laboratory setting will help you gain needed experience and references. Build your team building skills and leadership abilities by joining scientific professional societies, participating in regional and national science events, and taking a class in public relations. Develop your hand-eye coordination. Courses in calculus, environmental studies and statistics will help you in analyzing and processing data, says the Degree Finders website.

Preparation for Graduate Studies

  • Work toward your baccalaureate degree in chemistry, biology or a related field. Advanced courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and molecular biology will increase your chances for admission to a graduate school and enhance your resume during your future job search. Take courses in public speaking as well as scientific writing classes.

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