Pay Scale of a Forensic Scientist Toxicologist

by Dana Severson

Toxicologists are essentially scientific problem-solvers. Through experiments, they come to an understanding of how chemicals affect human cells. Those working in the forensic sciences perform the same basic duties, but typically with crime-scene evidence. They look for links between suspects and victims by using their scientific results.

No Toxicity in Earnings

In 2012, medical scientists averaged $87,830 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But this figure was regardless of specialty, which has some bearing on earnings. The seventh triennial survey by the Society of Toxicology found that nearly half of all salaries for toxicologists exceeded $100,000 a year as of 2007.

Why Toxicology Pays

The prevalence of six-figure salaries has a lot to do with training. Of respondents to the triennial survey, 76.6 percent of toxicologists held doctorates. University Ph.D. programs in the biological sciences, such as toxicology, can take six years to complete, so toxicologists generally enter the field with 10 years of training under their belts. For the most part, employers are willing to pay top dollar to secure this level of skill and knowledge in the field of toxicology.

Employer Makes the Difference

In general, forensic science toxicologists work for federal, state and local agencies. At these settings, salaries ranged from $55,000 to $141,000, depending on years of experience. Those not employed in the public sector may find themselves at contract labs or even working as consultants, which can improve earnings. At contract labs, toxicologists earned $75,000 to start and saw salaries soar to $162,000 with years on the job. As consultants, the highest reported salary was $226,000.

Earnings Ebb with Less Education

Not all toxicologists enter the field with a doctoral degree. In fact, 15.7 percent of toxicologists polled were working with a master’s degree, which had some impact on pay. At federal, state and local agencies, salaries ranged from $35,000 to $115,000 a year. Those working at contract labs brought home $45,000 to $95,000, while those working as consultants earned between $45,000 and $162,000 annually.

Gender Tempers Toxicology Wages

Though men typically outearn women in most occupations, the same can’t be said for toxicologists. Male toxicologists started out at $55,000 a year at state and local agencies, while women earned a starting salary of $70,000. At federal agencies, starting salaries averaged $57,000 for men and $58,000 for women. Actually, women at the height of their careers earned $141,000 at federal agencies, whereas men earned $130,000.

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

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