Forensic Toxicologist
Christie Mitchell
Employer: Washington State Patrol

Position description:
I analyze blood and other biological specimens for the presence of drugs and alcohol in drug driving cases and post mortem individuals. I also go to court to testify about my analysis.

Photo: Christie Mitchell
How They Got There

Undergrad degree:  Spanish

Favorite class in college:  Organic chemistry

Changing majors:  I had originally declared a Spanish major only, but then added on Chemistry as a second major during my Junior year.

Graduate degree:  Forensic Science

College to career:  After obtaining my undergraduate degree I worked in an environmental lab for two years before attending graduate school. I then started my current position after obtaining my master's degree. My undergraduate degree in Chemistry was helpful in pursuing my career, but the spanish degree did not play much of a factor.

Career influences:  I had always had an interest in forensics since high school, and through my graduate toxicology coursework I became very interested in forensic toxicology.

The Ups and Downs
Career benefits would be most forensic jobs are with a state or federal agency, which provides good hours, great benefits and decent wages. Also, forensics is a very interesting field of study with the opportunity to learn new things every day. One possible negative (depending on the type of agency your work for) could be the amount of time spent traveling for court and large caseloads that can create a stressful work environment.

I wish I had taken more classes outside of Spanish and Chemistry to broaden my knowledge of different disciplines. College is a great opportunity to learn about so many different subjects.

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