According to the British Toxicology Society, the primary purpose of any toxicologist's job is “to help us avoid chemical injury or manage accidental exposure of humans or the environment”.
Essentially, toxicologists observe the impact of chemicals, medicines and toxic materials on living organisms, focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating adverse effects of toxicants.
With substantial implications for human health, wildlife and the environment, jobs in toxicology are extremely important and require highly skilled and qualified practitioners.
Types of Toxicology Jobs
When diving into the world of professional toxicology, it’s important to note that not all toxicology jobs are the same. There are a number of sub-groups that toxicologist jobs fall into, broadly categorised under three primary labels:
- Medical toxicology
A sub-division of medicine, medical toxicology is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of adverse effects relating to medications, toxicants and biological agents. Medical toxicology jobs typically require physician status.
- Clinical toxicology
Closely related to medical toxicology, clinical toxicology also covers the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have been exposed to toxic substances. Not requiring physician status, this field is accessible to other appropriately-qualified health professionals, including nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals.
- Computational toxicology
As the name suggests, computational toxicology primarily focuses on the development and implementation of computer-based models to better understand and predict the adverse effects of chemicals, including pharmaceuticals and environmental pollutants.
Toxicology Job Requirements
A typical toxicologist job description will include a laundry list of duties and responsibilities; however, before anything else can be considered, these vacancies will also come with a number of essential criteria attached.
These typically include:
Like any scientific profession, toxicology requires you to be appropriately qualified. This will usually mean holding a relevant degree in a life sciences discipline (e.g. toxicology, biomedicine, pharmacology, etc).
Industry knowledge / experience
Most toxicology job vacancies will also require a certain amount of job experience and/or training. This often includes experience of product-related risk assessments and knowledge of effective testing protocols to identify potential health hazards.
Some toxicology jobs also require applicants to be verified by a trusted health science or professional medical authority as proof that they are accredited to carry out certain tasks. This may include registration with the Health & Care Professions Council or certification as a European Registered Toxicologist.
Duties and Responsibilities of Toxicology Jobs
Toxicologists are tasked with creating and developing efficient ways to identify potential hazards relating to chemicals and physical agents. This also extends to assessing the relative dosage of these substances, monitoring the amount that will cause these harmful effects, and identifying how substances can be used safely.
Knowledge of diseases caused by exposure to chemicals or physical substances is essential, as is the continued research of the associated basic molecular, biochemical and cellular processes. Through controlled studies, you will be required to help establish and update industry rules and regulations, with the primary focus being on protecting and preserving human health and the environment.
Toxicology is classified as an “integrative science”, which means that most toxicologists will work with fellow scientists specialising in other areas as part of a collaborative team. As such, a co-operative, synergistic approach to work is also essential.
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