Please wait while we gather the requested information from the database...



Get Involved
| Contact Us | Join SOT | Site Map | Help
Submit Button for the Search Form
 
Login: Email address
Password
Submit Button for the Login Form
Forgot your Password?

Toxicologist Supply and Expertise Survey: Past, Present, and Future SOT Placement Committee Report

This provides an update on the recently completed 1997 SOT toxicology training survey. Efforts to compare the results of this survey with the 1996 Job Market Survey are underway. Through these activities, the Placement Committee aims to provide SOT membership with valuable information on any emerging discrepancies between training and employer needs.

Summary

A 1997 survey of toxicologist training suggests that the number of toxicologists emerging from degree programs will peak in 1999. Compared with 1984–1989, from 1990–1995 there was a more than 50% increase in the number of toxicologists who received degrees from responding programs. Response rate to the survey was greater than 25% with 31 of 117 programs responding. These 31 programs graduated over 1300 toxicologists of all degree types from 1984–1995. The survey found that while numerically more toxicologists are entering formal post-doctoral positions, that a smaller proportion of graduates are entering post-doctoral positions (vs. 1984–1989). Of those entering post-doctoral positions, there is a trend toward longer time as a post-doc, as nearly twice as many post-docs accepted multiple–1995 (vs. 1984–989).

The survey found that the majority of toxicology graduates entered industrial positions (53% Ph.D., 73% M.S., 58% B.S.) with lower proportions entering academic and government positions. No significant changes in the career direction of new toxicology graduates are anticipated for 1996–2001 (vs. 1990–1995), save a somewhat greater

Information on specialized training of past and future graduates were identified and a heavy focus on biochemistry, molecular biology, in vitro toxicology, and pharmacology was reported. The survey also found continued emphasis on whole animal toxicology, rodent toxicology, and physiology. Interestingly, the survey uncovered only a moderate emphasis on risk assessment training, despite the fact that risk assessment has been identified as the top specialized expertise area needed for future toxicologists. Further, knowledge of risk assessment in recent toxicologists has been reported to be poorer than other specialized areas (1996 S.O.T. survey on the toxicology job market: past, present, and future).

Methods

The survey was developed by a subcommittee with input from the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Placement Committee, SOT Officers and Council. The survey (attached) was distributed in November 1996, and again to non-responsive programs in January 1997, to the chairpersons of 117 toxicology programs. The distribution list was compiled mainly from the listing of toxicology programs in the Resource Guide to Careers in Toxicology publication, and supplemented by committee member knowledge and other S.O.T. resources. Questions and timeframes in this toxicologist training survey were targeted to match with the 1996 job market survey for comparative purposes.

Make-Up of Respondents

Response to this survey was slightly greater than 25%, with 31 of 117 programs responding. Of the respondents, 29 programs granted Ph.D. degrees, 24 programs granted M.S. degrees, and 4 programs granted B.S. degrees in toxicology. Many (45%) of responders indicated that the size of their programs have increased from the mid-80's to the mid-90's, while 39% and 16% indicated that their programs had stayed the same in size or decreased, respectively. It is unknown whether these survey observations are representative of all programs.

Numbers of Toxicology Graduates and Sizes of Toxicology Programs

As shown in Figure 1, the number of toxicology graduates from programs responding to the survey generally increased from 1984 - 1995. The majority of graduates over this period of time earned a Ph.D. (55%, 752 total), with the remainder of the graduates being approximately evenly split between B.S. (23%, 312 total) and M.S. (22%, 300 total) degrees. Most of the toxicology programs surveyed graduated 3 or fewer Ph.D. or M.S. students per year (79% of the Ph.D. programs and 92% of the M.S. programs). For the B.S. programs 2 of 4 respondents graduated 4 - 6 students per year, one graduated 3 or fewer, and one graduated 10 or more students per year.

Figure1.JPG (36903 bytes)

Consistent with the increase in number of toxicology graduates, as indicated above, many (45%) of the respondents indicated that the size of their programs had increased. Most (71%) of the programs which increased in size indicated that the increase was due to change(s) in the mechanism(s) of student support. All of the programs which decreased in size indicated that the decrease was due to a change in the size or quality of the applicant pool.

As shown in Figure 2, the number of students earning a toxicology degree is expected to decrease from 1999 through 2001 (relative to the peak 1994-1997 years). However, the number of toxicology graduates is still expected to be greater during these years than the number of graduates in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Most graduates are expected to receive Ph.D. (64%) degrees, followed by M.S. and then B.S. degrees. There are significant uncertainties in the data presented in Figure 2, as the data consist of respondents’ future projections and thus are carry greater uncertainty at later time points.

Figure2.JPG (34494 bytes)

Specialized Training of Past and Future Graduates

Respondents identified specific areas of toxicology training for Ph.D. graduates in the recent past and future. As shown in Table 1, the top areas of training for past graduates are biochemistry, whole animal studies, in vitro toxicology, pharmacology, rodent toxicology, and molecular biology. These six training areas remain in the top for future graduates, although the priority shifts slightly (Table 2). Importantly, these training areas correspond well with the main areas identified in the 1996 Job Market Survey as types of training which employers desire in toxicologists.

 

Table 1

Past Ph.D. Graduates (1990 - 1995)

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Biochemistry

24

Wildlife Toxicology

5

Whole Animal Studies

20

Insect Toxicology

4

In Vitro Toxicology

18

Microbiology

4

Pharmacology

18

Primate Toxicology

2

Rodent Toxicology

18

Analytical Toxicology*

2

Molecular Biology

17

Toxicokinetics*

1

Pathology

12

Aerosol Science*

1

Physiology

12

Veterinary Toxicology*

1

Aquatic Toxicology

8

Environmental Toxicology*

1

Human Clinical Toxicology

6

Ecological Toxicology*

1

Large Animal Toxicology

6

Genetic Toxicology*

1

    *Added by respondents.

 

Table 2

Future Ph.D. Graduates (1996 - 2001)

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Biochemistry

25

Insect Toxicology

5

Molecular Biology

25

Large Animal Toxicology

5

In Vitro Toxicology

24

Microbiology

4

Pharmacology

19

Toxicokinetics*

1

Whole Animal Studies

18

Aerosol Science*

1

Rodent Toxicology

17

Veterinary Toxicology*

1

Pathology

15

Environmental Toxicology*

1

Physiology

11

Analytical Toxicology*

1

Aquatic Toxicology

10

Ecological Toxicology*

1

Wildlife Toxicology

9

Genetic Toxicology*

1

Human Clinical Toxicology

7

   
    *Added by respondents.

Table 3 provides a rank of responses indicating the areas of specialized training for Ph.D.s graduating from toxicology programs from 1996 through 2001. Biochemical toxicology, mechanisms, environmental toxicology and metabolism were identified as the top four areas of specialized training. The 1996 Job Market Survey identified risk assessment, biochemical toxicology, mechanisms, and toxicokinetics/disposition as the top areas where specialized training is needed for toxicology positions in the future. The need for specialized training in risk assessment may not be adequately fulfilled since it was identified as the top specialized training area desired by employers, but ranked only about 10th as a specialized training area for future toxicology graduates from responding programs.

Table 3

Future Ph.D. Graduates (1996 - 2001)

Specialized Training Area

No. Responses

Specialized Training Area

No. Responses

Biochemical Toxicology

27

Epidemiology

5

Mechanisms

25

Behavioral Toxicity

4

Environmental Toxicology

22

Occupational Health/Industrial Hygiene

4

Metabolism

21

Product/Food Safety

4

Toxicokinetics/Disposition

17

Public Health

4

Immunotoxicity

16

Anatomy

3

Chronic Toxicity and Carcinogenicity

15

Gastrointestinal Toxicity

3

Inhalation/Pulmonary Toxicity

15

Hematotoxicity

3

Hepatotoxicity

14

Ocular Toxicity

3

Neurotoxicity

14

Analytical Toxicology

2

Risk Assessment

14

Dermal Toxicity

1

Developmental Toxicity

12

Process Safety/Industrial Toxicity

1

Reproductive Toxicity

12

Molecular Toxicology*

1

Dose Response Modeling

9

Aerosol Science*

1

Genotoxicity

9

Veterinary Toxicology*

1

Nephrotoxicity

9

Clinical Toxicology*

1

Statistics

9

Forensic Toxicology*

1

Cardiovascular Toxicity

8

   
 

*Added by respondents.

The top areas of experience for B.S. and M.S. degreed graduates differed only slightly from the Ph.D. profile. As shown in Table 4, the top areas in which past graduates received training were biochemistry, whole animal studies, rodent toxicology, and pharmacology. Future graduates are expected to receive training in biochemistry, molecular biology, rodent toxicology, in vitro toxicology, and whole animal studies (Table 5). Recent trends show and increase in experience within molecular biology and in vitro toxicology. These experience areas correspond well to the main areas of need in future toxicology positions identified in the 1996 Job Market Survey, e.g., pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and rodent toxicology.

 

Table 4

Past B.S./M.S. Graduates (1990 - 1995)

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Biochemistry

16

Microbiology

4

Whole Animal Studies

16

Wildlife Toxicology

4

Rodent Toxicology

14

Insect Toxicology

3

Pharmacology

12

Primate Toxicology

1

Aquatic Toxicology

10

Regulatory/Risk Assessment*

1

In Vitro Toxicology

10

Veterinary Toxicology*

1

Molecular Biology

10

Environmental Toxicology*

1

Physiology

10

Good Laboratory Practices*

1

Large Animal Toxicology

6

Hazardous Waste Mgmt*

1

Pathology

6

Analytical Toxicology*

1

Human Clinical Toxicology

5

 

   

*Added by respondents.

 

Table 5

Future B.S./M.S. Graduates (1996 - 2001)

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Experience Area

No. of Responses

Biochemistry

16

Wildlife Toxicology

6

Molecular Biology

15

Large Animal Toxicology

5

Rodent Toxicology

15

Insect Toxicology

3

In Vitro Toxicology

14

Microbiology

3

Whole Animal Studies

14

Regulatory/Risk Assessment*

3

Pharmacology

13

Veterinary Toxicology*

1

Aquatic Toxicology

11

Environmental Toxicology*

1

Physiology

10

Good Laboratory Practices*

1

Pathology

8

Hazardous Waste Mgmt*

1

Human Clinical Toxicology

7

Analytical Toxicology*

1

   

*Added by respondents.

Postdoctoral Positions

The total number of Ph.D.s in postdoctoral positions increased during the 1990 - 1995 period (190 positions), as compared to the 1984–1989 period (149 positions). However, there were also more Ph.D. toxicologists graduating during these later years (460 versus 292 Ph.D. graduates). Between 1984 and 1989, 43% of Ph.D. students held at least one postdoctoral position, while only 30% held at least one postdoctoral position between 1990 and 1995.

Of those Ph.D. graduates who pursued postdoctoral positions, more toxicologists have held multiple postdoctoral positions in recent years. Specifically, 16% held 2 or more postdoctoral positions between 1984 and 1989, while 28% held 2 or more postdoctoral positions between 1990 and 1995.

Career Direction

During the period between 1990 and 1995, the majority of all degreed toxicology graduates went into industry (Table 6). For Ph.D. graduates, approximately 53% pursued positions in industry, 34% went into academia, and 12% pursued positions in government. These numbers are consistent with the 1996 Job Market Survey, which indicated that the majority of Ph.D. toxicologists hold positions in industry, with academic positions being the second-most common positions.

Table 6

Career Distributions (1990 - 1995)

 

Ph.D (%)

M.S. (%)

B.S. (%)

Academia

34

13

25

Industry

53

74

58

Government

12

13

11

Unspecified

<1

0

6

Likewise, the survey results indicate that the majority of all degreed toxicology graduates between 1996 and 2001 are predicted to pursue careers in industry (Table 7). Twenty-eight percent of Ph.D. graduates are expected to go into academia, 17% into government, and 3% are unspecified. Relative to the period between 1990 and 1995 (Table 6), the most significant change anticipated is that a somewhat greater proportion of B.S. graduates are predicted to pursue future positions in industry.

Table 7

Anticipated Career Distributions (1996 - 2001)

 

Ph.D (%)

M.S. (%)*

B.S. (%)

Academia

27

6

9

Industry

53

75

73

Government

17

17

15

Consulting*

---

2

---

Unspecified

3

0

3

*Consulting was added as a category by one of the respondents.


The survey and report were prepared by a sub-committee of the S.O.T. Placement Committee:

  • N. Dillard (SOT headquarters representative)
  • M. Holsapple
  • A. Kraus - subcommittee chair
  • S. Lasley
  • C. Perry
  • S. Roberts
  • J. Smith
  • K. Towndrow

SOT —Dedicated to Creating a Safer and Healthier World by Advancing the Science of Toxicology.

© 2014 Society of Toxicology. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy and Disclaimer | Contact Us