Pursuing a career as a toxicologist makes you responsible for investigating the harmful effects of chemicals on human, animal and environmental health. As a toxicologist, you will use multidisciplinary approaches such as pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and environmental science to look into the interactions between chemicals and biological systems and how that affects not only animal and ecosystem health but also human health. Toxicology is a versatile career that provides many career opportunities as well as the opportunity for continuous growth.
Starting a career as a toxicologist might be fascinating for you if you have an interest in biology, chemistry, or environmental science. Starting a career as a toxicologist will allow you to explore different fields such as teaching, forensic science and pharmaceuticals. However, you need to gain an in-depth understanding of this career path before you can become an expert. You also need to build the right skills and have the qualifications that will enable you to work and specialise in different areas of specialisation.
How to Start a Career as a Toxicologist
Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is very essential in this career path. It will give you a headstart in this field. You can gain a bachelor’s degree in areas such as toxicology, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology and environmental science. Additionally, these disciplines will give you a strong foundation in the basic sciences.
Pursue Advanced Degrees
This may not be a compulsory requirement. However, it is also very important that you can obtain advanced degrees such as Masters or Ph.D. You can gain an advanced degree in toxicology or a related field. Additionally, you can decide to acquire knowledge in a particular area of specialisation. These degrees will give you access to opportunities in areas such as research and academia.
Choose an Area of Specialisation
Toxicology is a broad field. Therefore, you can choose an area of specialisation that is based on your interests and your career goals. There are various areas that you can specialise in. You can specialise in areas such as environmental toxicology, clinical toxicology, regulatory toxicology, or pharmacological toxicology.
Gain Research Experience
You should engage in research projects or internships while pursuing your graduate and undergraduate degrees. These research experiences are beneficial for building a strong resume and gaining real-world experience. Additionally, it will prove your dedication to the field to potential employers.
Gain Additional Certifications
Obtaining professional certifications can enhance your credibility and demonstrate your expertise in the field. Additionally, it will allow you to gain valuable skills in your area of specialisation.
Gain Practical Experience
While you are obtaining your degree, you apply for entry-level positions to get some hands-on experience. Additionally, you can apply for an internship position or a research assistant position. This will allow you to learn from seasoned toxicologists while also expanding your career network.
Develop your Skills
You must work on enhancing your skills as you learn more about your field and get experience. You will need to develop skills such as critical thinking, attention to detail, and written and oral communication skills. These skills will enable you to collaborate with other toxicologists and generate concise summaries of your findings.
Types of Toxicologists
Environmental toxicologists research how toxins and pollutants affect wildlife, human populations, and ecosystems. Additionally, they carry out field research, evaluate environmental risks, and assist in the formulation of regulations aimed at reducing environmental dangers.
Pharmaceutical toxicologists evaluate the safety of new drugs while they are being developed for use in the pharmaceutical industry.
Neurotoxicologists are experts in the study of how poisonous substances affect the nervous system. Additionally, they look into the potential links between exposures and neurological conditions and deficits.
Clinical toxicologists are employed in places such as medical facilities, frequently in poison control centres or emergency rooms. Their speciality is treating people who have been exposed to toxins, and they also offer medical advice for overdoses and poisonings.
Food toxicologists evaluate food additives and products for safety. Additionally, they support food safety regulations by researching the possible adverse effects of pollutants, chemicals, and food-borne bacteria.
Aquatic toxicologists evaluate how contaminants affect aquatic environments. They support the management and conservation of water resources by researching the effects of pollutants on areas such as fish, marine life, and water quality.
Occupational toxicologists focus on assessing the potential health risks associated with workplace exposure to toxic substances.
Genetic toxicologists study the potential of toxic substances to cause damage to DNA and genetic material. Additionally, they assess mutagenic and carcinogenic effects and contribute to understanding the long-term consequences of exposures.
Forensic toxicologists examine biological samples such as blood, urine, etc. to detect and quantify toxic substances in cases of drug overdose, poisoning, or suspicious deaths. They may offer expert testimony in legal proceedings.
Reproductive and Developmental Toxicologist
This field of study focuses on how toxic substances affect reproductive health and foetal development. They are looking into how pregnancy-related exposures affect the developing foetus’ health.
Universities in Africa that Offer Toxicology
- Cairo University, Egypt
- University of Lagos, Nigeria
- Ain Shams University, Egypt
- University of Johannesburg, South Africa
- Alexandria University, Egypt
- University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
- Mansoura University, Egypt
- University of Cape Town, South Africa
- Assiut University, Egypt
- University of Monastir, Tunisia
- Sohag University, Egypt
- University of Nigeria, Nigeria
- Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
- University of Ibadan, Nigeria
- Tanta University, Egypt
- Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
- University of Carthage, Tunisia
- Durban University of Technology, South Africa
- University of Ilorin, Nigeria
- Covenant University, Nigeria
- University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
- Jimma University, Ethiopia
- Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria
- University of Annaba, Algeria
- Hawassa University, Ethiopia
- University of Uyo, Nigeria
- Haramaya University, Ethiopia
- Makerere University, Uganda
- North-West University, South Africa
- University of Nairobi, Kenya
- Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
- University of Ghana, Ghana
- Rhodes University, South Africa
- University of Sfax, Tunisia
- University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
- Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania
- Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
- Egerton University, Kenya
- University of Ilorin, Nigeria
- Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal
In Conclusion, pursuing a career in toxicology is one of the most fascinating careers to break into. However, it demands a high level of dedication, education as well as expertise. Therefore, you should spend time getting familiarised with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in this career before you begin your career journey.