How to Become a Forensic Toxicologist

How to Become a Forensic Toxicologist

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

The minimum academic requirement for a forensic toxicologist is a bachelor's degree in clinical chemistry, chemistry, or pharmacology.

Many toxicologists go on to earn a master's degree or a PhD in forensic toxicology from a university that has Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) accreditation for their forensics department.

The preparation timeline below outlines an example chemistry curriculum:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Calculus I
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Statistics
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Applied Kinesiology
  • Athletic Care & Prevention
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Nutrition for Athletes
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Lower Body Injury Evaluation
  • Athletic Training Clinical I & II
  • Exercise Testing
  • Upper Body Injury Evaluation
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Health in the US
  • Health Education & Planning
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Policy
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)

In order to be accepted into a graduate program, students must pass the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE) with a sufficient score to be accepted into the school they're interested in.

The GRE is a 6-section, 4-hour comprehensive exam that is broken down as follows:

Section Section Breakdown
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas.
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • 20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data.
2 Verbal Reasoning Sections
  • 20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

3. Earn a Master's or Doctoral Degree (Optional)

Aspiring forensic toxicologists may want to pursue a graduate degree for further opportunities in the field, but are not necessary for to become certified. Those with more education typically have more successful careers and are more competitive candidates for the positions in which they seek.

Explore FEPAC Accredited Universities

4. Earn the Required Certification

According to the American Board of Forensic Toxicology, candidates must possess the follow requirements to be eligible for the certification exam:

  • Bachelor's degree in a biological or chemistry-related field
  • Three years of subsequent experience
  • 1 year of experience immediately prior to application


  • $150, non-refundable application fee
  • Passport-style photograph
  • Official transcripts
  • 3 professional character references
  • Annual maintenance fee of $100
  • Certificates are valid for 5 years and are renewable

Download the ABFT Certification Brochure

5. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

Once certified, forensic toxicologists must submit annual documentation of continuing education in the field to maintain their certification.

Download the Continuing Education Annual Submission Form