How to Become an Entomologist

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Entomology is a branch of arthropodology that focuses on the study of insects. An entomologist is a biological scientist that is an expert on insects and performs a variety of tasks related to entomology.

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What does an entomologist do?

Entomologists concentrate specifically on studying and categorizing many different species of insects. They often examine the morphology, behavior, ecology, and nutrition of insects. They also study the ways insects interact with their environment, other insects, and a variety of animals. Entomologists examine a variety of insect influences such as human diseases, life cycle of plants, and locusts on crops. Many entomologists strive to find ways to control harmful insects by developing new pesticides and non-chemical techniques. Most entomologists concentrate on a specific type of insects. Many also focus on a specific field such as agricultural entomology or forensic entomology.

What kind of training does an entomologist need?

Entomologists typically need a doctoral degree in entomology, zoology, biology, or other related field. Some colleges and universities offer entomology programs and others enable students to specialize in the area. Many aspiring entomologists complete internships or volunteer opportunities at zoos or entomology environments to gain practical experience in the field. Many entomologists gain certification from the Entomological Society of America to remain competitive in the field. The Entomological Society of America offers the Board Certified Entomologist (BCE) and Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) designations. Requirements typically include minimum education and experience and passing an extensive examination. Entomologists must complete regular continuing education throughout their careers to keep their skills current and stay abreast with new developments in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as an entomologist?

Employment of all biological scientists, including entomologists is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 21% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growth of the biotechnology industry and increased need for pest control will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be very good with strong competition for research positions. Entomologists with extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Some job openings will stem from the need to replace entomologists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do entomologists make?

As of March 2010, the average annual salary for entomologists is $62,000; average annual entomologist salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as an entomologist is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in entomology and studying a variety of insects. Entomologists must have a solid understanding of entomological concepts and procedures as well as many different research techniques. Scientific aptitude, patience, determination, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Entomologists must have good communication skills and ability to work independently and as part of a team. They must be able to work flexible hours and work effectively in less desirable conditions. Entomologists must always follow the necessary safety precautions to minimize injury and contamination.

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