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Resource Guide to Careers in Toxicology

What is Toxicology?
Why Consider a Career in Toxicology?
What Do Toxicologists Do?
Where Do Toxicologists Work?
Regional Distribution of Toxicology Jobs
How Much Do Toxicologists Earn?
How Do I Prepare for a Career in Toxicology?

Academic and Postdoctoral Programs and Web Sites
The presence of a program in this Guide does not constitute endorsement by the Society of Toxicology, nor does the omission of a program constitute lack of endorsement. Programs included here subscribed to this list using the Program Submission Form.


The Society of Toxicology (SOT) seeks to recruit diverse and talented scientists to the field of toxicology. The first edition of the Resource Guide to Careers in Toxicology was conceived and prepared by members of the Educational Issues Task Force of the Tox 90's Commission, including Jay Gandolfi, Ph.D. (Committee Chairman), University of Arizona; David L. Eaton, Ph.D. (Project Coordinator), University of Washington; Robert E. Dudley, Ph.D., Gynex, Inc.; Michele Medinsky, Ph.D., CIIT; Harihara Mehendale, Ph.D., University of Mississippi; and Curtis D. Klaassen, Ph.D. (Council Liaison), University of Kansas Medical Center, with additional guidance from 19891990 SOT President Roger McClellan.

The format for the fourth edition has been substantially revised. Since the internet has become a primary source of information, this edition directs students and advisors to detailed information that the academic programs maintain on their Web sites. These sites can be accessed directly from the On-Line version of this Guide, which can be found on the SOT Web site. This On-Line version may be updated annually upon request.

This revision was completed under the direction of the SOT Education Committee (Claude McGowan, Ph.D., 1998-1999 Chair, Janssen at Washington Crossing; and Rick G. Schnellmann, Ph.D., 1999-2000 Chair, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences); and a Task Force consisting of James E. Klaunig, Ph.D. (Project Coordinator), Indiana University School of Medicine; David L. Eaton, Ph.D., University of Washington; A. Jay Gandolfi, Ph.D., University of Arizona; Claude McGowan, Ph.D., Janssen at Washington Crossing; Mary Davis, Ph.D., West Virginia University Medical Center; Jacqueline H. Smith, Ph.D., Exxon Biomedical Sciences, Inc.; and Betty Eidemiller, Ph.D., SOT Director of Education.

We acknowledge Alice Ottobani for the phrase "the dose makes the poison."

All academic programs that submitted materials and contributed to defray production and distribution costs were included in the Guide. Inclusion does not constitute endorsement by the SOT, nor does the absence of any program infer lack of endorsement.

Published by:

Society of Toxicology
1821 Michael Faraday Drive, Suite 300
Reston, Virginia 20190-5332
Tel: (703) 438-3115
Fax: (703) 438-3113

Facts About Toxicology

dose makes the poison."
"Toxicology is part of the solution."

Toxicology. . . is the science that studies the harmful effects of drugs, environmental contaminants, and naturally occurring substances found in food, water, air and soil.

Toxicology. . . research is important for improving the health of humans, animals and
their environments.

Toxicology. . . studies are required to ensure the safety of medicines, household and gardening chemicals, and industrial and natural chemicals to which humans and animals are frequently exposed.

Toxicology. . . research is intended to identify harmful effects of potential new products and to determine safe levels for approved products.

Toxicology. . . research also provides understanding of the mechanisms by which chemical substances cause injury, and this information can be used in the treatment of poisonings.

Career Opportunities in Toxicology

What is Toxicology?

Hardly a week goes by without hearing that a chemical may potentially threaten our health—pesticides in the food we eat, pollutants in the air we breathe, chemicals in the water we drink, toxic dump sites near our homes. Chemicals make up everything around us. Which chemicals are really dangerous? How much does it take to cause harm? What are the effects of a particular chemical? Cancer? Nervous system damage? Birth defects?

Finding scientifically sound answers to these very important questions is what toxicologists do, using the most modern molecular, genetic, and analytical techniques available. Toxicology combines the elements of many scientific disciplines to help us understand the harmful effects of chemicals on living organisms.

An additional, important aspect of toxicology is determining the likelihood that harmful effects will occur under certain exposure circumstances, sometimes called "risk assessment." If the risks are real, then we must be able to deal with them effectively. If the risks are trivial, then we must ensure that valuable public resources are not spent ineffectively. Such important decisions must be made with the best scientific evidence possible.

The responsibility of the toxicologist is to:

1) develop new and better ways to determine the potential harmful effects of chemical and physical agents and the amount (dosage) that will cause these effects. An essential part of this is to learn more about the basic molecular, biochemical and cellular processes responsible for diseases caused by exposure to chemical or physical substances;

2) design and carry out carefully controlled studies of specific chemicals of social and economic importance to determine the conditions under which they can be used safely (that is, conditions that have little or no negative impact on human health, other organisms, or the environment);

3) assess the probability, or likelihood, that particular chemicals, processes or situations present a significant risk to human health and/or the environment, and assist in the establishment of rules and regulations aimed at protecting and preserving human health and the environment.

Why Consider a Career in Toxicology?

Wise use of chemicals is an essential component of the high standard of living we enjoy. The challenge to toxicologists is to ensure that we are not endangering our health or the environment with the products and by-products of modern and comfortable living. As a career, toxicology provides the excitement of science and research while also contributing to the well-being of current and future generations. Few other careers offer such exciting and socially important challenges as protecting public health and the environment.

With the increase in our health consciousness, as well as concern for our environment, a wide and growing variety of career opportunities exist in toxicology.


  • participate in basic research using the most advanced techniques in molecular biology, analytical chemistry and biomedical sciences;
  • work with chemical, pharmaceutical and many other industries to test and ensure that their products and workplaces are safe, and to evaluate the implications of new research data;
  • work for local and federal governments to develop and enforce laws to ensure that chemicals are produced, used and disposed of safely; work in academic institutions to teach others about the safe use of chemicals and to train future toxicologists.

Attractive Salaries and Professional Advancement
The demand for well-trained toxicologists continues to increase. Highly competitive salaries are available in a variety of employment sectors. Increasing specialization in the science of toxicology now provides the toxicologist with a competitive advantage over chemists, engineers, biologists or other scientists without specialized training in toxicology. Opportunities are available for career advancement to executive levels for those with organizational and administrative

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