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What is an Entomologist?

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Study Insects and Enjoy a Career in Science

Entomologists are wildlife biologists who study insects in a variety of settings. If you enjoy science, the great outdoors and have an interest in pest control or preserving endangered species, a career in entomology may be for you. Most people in the field work for dependable employers like the government, educational institutions or corporations that provide generous benefits, which is great for peace of mind when you are raising little ones.

Job Description

Entomologists study insects in a variety of settings, with a wide range of job responsibilities. In research positions, they typically experiment with new pest management solutions, or generate ideas for preserving endangered species of insects. They typically keep immaculate lab reports and share findings in academic journals or with pest management companies.

In educational institutions, entomologists work with colleges, universities or cooperative extensions to further the field or share important information on how to manage beneficial insects and pests. Those in academic settings typically enjoy flexible hours and regular school breaks, which could be especially good for those with little children.

Entomologists who work for the government help with plant quarantine, local pest control, military base pest control or even with the health department. Forensic entomology is a newer field in which entomologists are hired to help solve crimes. Some specialists in the field also work to keep invasive bugs in other countries from causing problems in the United States.

In corporate settings, entomologists work with pest control companies to develop new insecticides and with farmers to protect their crops. They also help to protect hotels and other corporate settings from pest invasion.

Education Requirements

Entomologists normally undertake extensive training for the field, beginning with an undergraduate degree in biology or zoology, followed by a master's or doctorate in entomology. While some employers will hire entomologists with a master's degree, a doctorate is generally required for government positions, research positions or university teaching positions. Optional certification is available through the Entomological Society of America. They require a degree in the field combined with work experience in order to sit for the certification exam.

The average salary for all zoologists and wildlife biologists, including entomologists, is $60,520, which means that half earn more than this while the other half earn less. The top 10 percent earn more than $98,540, while the bottom 10 percent earn less than $39,150. To enjoy a higher salary after all those years in school, consider a teaching position in higher education. The median salary for all postsecondary teachers is $75,430 per year, and you would have the added benefits of a flexible schedule and regular school breaks.

About the Industry

Entomologists work in labs, classrooms, the great outdoors and in office buildings, depending on the scope of their work. Common employers include all levels of government, military, universities, private corporations and pest management companies. In pest management positions, expect to be exposed to a variety of chemicals and work conditions, including all kinds of weather and buildings with insect infestations.

Years of Experience

Salary varies widely for entomologists, depending on level of education, employer and area of focus. One projection for wildlife biologists, including entomologists, looks like this:

  • 1-3 years

    $43,947
    * 4-6 years

    $47,215
    * 7-9 years

    $52,498
    10-14 years: $54,555  
    15 or more years

    $60,910

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for all zoologists and wildlife biologists, including entomologists, is expected to increase by 8 percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as in other industries. Because many positions are with the government or public colleges and universities, funding for positions is limited by budgetary allowances. Hone your academic skills, seek internships while in school and participate in research to stand out from the crowd and increase your chances for landing some of the higher paid positions in the field.