City and County of San Francisco

Forensic Toxicologist (#2456)

$52.51-$63.84 Hourly / $9,102.00-$11,065.00 Monthly / $109,226.00-$132,782.00 Yearly


Working in the Forensic Laboratory Division of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner under the supervision of the Forensic Toxicologist Supervisor and the direction of the Chief Forensic Toxicologist/Forensic Laboratory Director, the Forensic Toxicologist is a forensically-trained scientist who performs a range of laboratory procedures following established protocols in the process of ensuring that all forensic specimens are processed and tested in a proficient, reliable and accurate manner.

Distinguishing Features

This class is assigned to the Forensic Laboratory Division of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Incumbents in this class independently perform professional journey-level chemical, biological and/or pharmaceutical analytical duties related to forensic cases submitted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for forensic investigation. This classification is distinguished from Class 2457 Forensic Toxicologist Supervisor, in that the latter provides first-line supervision and oversight to subordinate professional and technical staff.

Supervision Exercised


Examples of Important and Essential Duties

According to Civil Service Commission Rule 109, the duties specified below are representative of the range of duties assigned to this job code/class and are not intended to be an inclusive list.

  1. Interacts with other Department divisions, Medical, Investigative, and Administrative staff members, external policing agencies, State and Federal entities, and other San Francisco City government agencies.
  2. Receives evidence submitted for the purpose of detecting drugs and/or chemicals, controlled substances, prescription compounds and various poisons; ensures specimens are accessioned into the laboratory and stored according to forensic requirements; maintains a legal chain of custody for all evidence; releases forensic evidence to authorized personnel in accordance with departmental policy and legal requirements.
  3. Evaluates all evidence submitted for analysis to determine if the quality and quantity is adequate for scientific testing; performs detailed and complex qualitative and quantitative evaluations of forensic specimens, including blood, urine, tissue, vitreous and other biologic specimens or physical evidence; identifies, confirms and quantitates levels of drugs and/or chemicals, using a variety of laboratory and analytical procedures (e.g. GC, GC/MS, LC/MS, LC/TOF-MS, Immunoassays, etc.), and following standard forensic toxicology and chemistry analytical procedures consistent with the Laboratory’s Standard Operating Procedures.
  4. Performs forensic alcohol determinations and quantitations on physiological specimens in accordance with specified methods under Title 17, California Administrative Code of the State Department of Public Health.
  5. Prepares forensic microscopic slides and makes routine and special stains as required, including the preparation of necessary reagents and solutions; assists in labeling and sending specimens for outside medicolegal tests.
  6. Participates in proficiency tests in order to comply with national and state quality assurance standards; attends training classes and professional meetings to keep abreast of current professional standards and methodologies; and researches technical journals, textbooks, and proprietary publications to determine the best methods of performing laboratory tests.
  7. Records data; compiles case folders containing all required documentation, charts, and printouts in appropriate format for review and archiving; prepares legal reports representing the results of all the analyses performed.
  8. Sets up laboratory apparatus; maintains equipment, inventory of supplies, and premises of the laboratory; maintains service records for all scientific instruments in the laboratory; achieves economies and/or prevents losses through proper handling of laboratory equipment, materials and supplies; performs established quality-control procedures to ensure proper functioning of laboratory equipment and use of reagents.
  9. Reviews, authorizes, reports and interprets: forensic alcohol determinations and quantitations on physiological specimens in accordance with specified methods under Title 17, California Administrative Code of the State Department of Public Health; the analysis of other common drugs, alcohol and poisons assays within the laboratory, and; the analysis of testing performed from external reference laboratories.
  10. Reviews casework for suitability of closure; signs and issues Laboratory reports; interprets findings resulting from casework.
  11. Testifies in court to report laboratory findings and explain the theory, principles and method of analyses in order to support the laboratory findings and technical details; provides technical information and advice to the Medical Examiners, District Attorneys, City Attorneys, Public Defenders, Police Investigators and others as required. 

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Knowledge of: principles and practices of forensic toxicology, pharmacology and analytical chemistry, with specific application to the analyses of human body tissues and fluids; the interaction of organic and inorganic compounds, especially drugs, with human systems; applicable legal terms, code sections, court procedures, and the laws of evidence; analytical instrumentation and equipment, as well as computer software and hardware, needed to perform difficult and complex toxicology examinations; principles of instrument and detector function and maintenance; principles of quality assurance and methods of assuring accurate analysis; procedures for working with and minimizing job-related chemical and biological hazards, including procedures for safe handling of chemical and biological laboratory waste; principles of statistical analysis relative to laboratory practice and process.

Ability or Skill to: conduct forensic laboratory casework using analytical instrumentation and equipment; follow complex analytical protocols; carefully collect, analyze, evaluate and interpret case data obtained in the course of forensic investigations; apply specialized professional knowledge and skill in the use of scientific methods as a basis for formulating opinions or recommendations; read and evaluate technical, medical and legal reports and published data; prepare clear, concise and accurate scientific and other reports; speak and communicate technical information in a clear and understandable manner appropriate to the understanding of the listener or legal decider of fact; listen and effectively elicit information; provide expert professional advice and testify as an expert in courts of law on matters related to the forensic laboratory findings; utilize computers for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.

Minimum Qualifications

These minimum qualifications establish the education, training, experience, special skills and/or license(s) which are required for employment in the classification.  Please note, additional qualifications (i.e., special conditions) may apply to a particular position and will be stated on the exam/job announcement.


Possession of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a life science or physical science with 16 semester hours in general and organic chemistry courses, a statistics course, and two (2) analytical and/or interpretive courses in forensic toxicology, pharmacology and chemistry.



License and Certification:

Possession of a valid California Driver License; AND

Possession of or eligibility for certification by the State of California Department of Public Health as a Title 17 Forensic Alcohol Analyst within five (5) years of hire.




Nature of duties may require sustained physical effort involving manual skill, dexterity, hand/eye coordination, and the ability to lift and carry equipment and supplies up to 50 lbs. Requires close mental attention and concentration for long periods when conducting various tests and the technical skill and ability to make accurate observations and determinations and prepare related reports of findings. Work environment may entail exposure to biohazards and potentially toxic chemicals, specimens from infectious and decomposed cases and/or persons who have died of drug or chemical poisoning; unpleasant odors or conditions; and exposure to disagreeable elements or situations inherent in this specialized field. This work requires compliance with department policies pertaining to blood borne pathogen exposure prevention, biohazard exposure prevention, toxic chemical exposure prevention, evidence handling and security requirements on evidence, standards and information.


To: 2457 Forensic Toxicologist Supervisor




03/07/1988; 04/04/03; 11/04/05; 08/04/06; 08/20/15; 11/04/16; 05/30/17; 07/31/19


To accurately reflect the current tasks, knowledge, skills & abilities, and minimum qualifications.

Business unit(s):



Disaster Service Workers

All City and County of San Francisco employees are designated Disaster Service Workers through state and local law (California Government Code Section 3100-3109). Employment with the City requires the affirmation of a loyalty oath to this effect. Employees are required to complete all Disaster Service Worker-related training as assigned, and to return to work as ordered in the event of an emergency.

CLASS: 2456; EST: 1/12/1961; REV: 7/31/2019;