What Is A Forensic Toxicologist?

Forensic ToxicologistIf you have been thinking about the pursuit of a career in the fields of biology or chemistry, you may have begun exploring various positions and found yourself asking “What is a Forensic Toxicologist?” By reading the data found below, you can obtain an answer to this question and several others that pertain to the field of forensic toxicology.

Forensic Toxicologist – A Brief Overview

Although broadly defined, a forensic toxicologist is an individual who performs scientific testing on tissue samples and bodily fluids for the purpose of identifying any chemicals or drugs that might be present within the body. By working in conjunction with the teams responsible for crime investigation, the forensic toxicologist will identify and isolate substances within the human body that might have played a role in a crime. Some of those substances could include:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs
  • Poisons
  • Chemicals
  • Metals
  • Gases

Forensic Toxicology – A Deeper Look

As mentioned earlier, forensic toxicologists work in a lab setting in order to test samples that have been collected by a crime scene investigator. Sophisticated instruments are used for this investigation process, and forensic toxicologists also make use of precise methodologies and chemical reagents in order to determine whether certain substances are present or absent within the sample.

In order to operate effectively within this sector, the forensic toxicologist must possess a great deal of patience and also be able to follow highly specific steps designed to achieve the most reliable, accurate results. To accomplish this objective, the forensic toxicologist should document each stage of the process while also making sure that all of the established rules and regulations regarding the chain of custody for evidence are adhered to.

Forensic Toxicology – An Evolving Field

In recent years, the forensic toxicology sector has undergone growth and expansion that includes animal sample testing, drug testing for traffic enforcement officials and employers, and testing for drugs involved in date rape as well as substances believed to enhance the user’s performance. Additionally, forensic toxicologists may handle cases that pertain to the field of environmental contamination for the purpose of determining the impact that chemical spills may have on populations nearby. Because crime scene investigators are reliant on forensic toxicologists for reliable, accurate information regarding the impact that specific substances will have on people, this field of work is considered to be very important by many.

Forensic Toxicology – Court Work

In some cases, a forensic toxicologist will be required to formulate opinions and conclusions regarding the impact that a certain substance has had on an individual. When this happens, the forensic toxicologist is expected to rely on his or her knowledge and experience within the field to offer a well-grounded, rational conclusion. In some cases, the forensic toxicologist may be required to testify in court. If this happens, she or he must be ready to provide justifying evidence to support the conclusions drawn while also explaining the methodologies involved in that process to the jury.

Work Environment

Generally, forensic toxicologists will work in a lab setting that is run by private drug testing facilities, medical examiners, or law enforcement agencies. In many cases, they are required to stand or sit for extended periods of time. In order to perform their testing work, forensic toxicologists must possess great motor skills as well as a firm commitment to working in compliance with established and rigorous scientific protocols. The forensic toxicologist must also be prepared to work around messy, smelly tissue samples and bodily fluids.


According to Indeed a forensic toxicologist can expect to earn about $68,000 annually.

Related Resource: Become a Detective


If you have given any consideration to working within the fields of biology or chemistry, you should know that pursuing a career in the forensic toxicology sector might be advantageous and rewarding for you. Now that you have obtained a basic answer to the question “What is a forensic toxicologist?,” you can make an informed decision regarding whether this would be the right vocational path for you to pursue.