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Lepidopterists study lepidoptera, better known as butterflies, skippers and moths. Whether as hobbyists or as formal biological science scholars, lepidopterists create butterfly and moth collections, watch lepidoptera in nature and perform experiments on them in the lab. Lepidopterists enjoy watching lepidoptera the way bird watchers enjoy bird watching -- with great excitement and deep appreciation for them.
For purposes of locating statistics regarding the salaries of lepidopterists, lepidopterists fall into the larger category of zoologists and/or wildlife biologists. Lepidopterists are a specialty of entomology, which is a speciality of either zoology or wildlife biology. Therefore, income statistics for zoologists or wildlife biologists would be considered fairly accurate in evaluating the salary of lepidopterists.
Nationwide Average Salary
According to KayCircle.com, in January of 2010, the average salary for lepidopterists was $55,000 per year. This varies by education and experience, however. According to an undated statement made by the state of New Mexico, nationally, zoologists or wildlife biologists make $58,820 per year. The typical salary falls in the mid to upper $50,000 range.
New Mexico Average Lepidopterist Salary
According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, zoologists and wildlife biologists in the state of New Mexico make more than the average lepidoperterist nationwide. In New Mexico, a zoologists or wildlife biologist earns $61,180 per year. Statewide, zoologist and wildlife biologist pay ranges from $43,890 for entry-level workers to $69,830 for experienced workers with $61,180 being the average.
Since some lepidopterists are hobbyists, they earn no salary. In fact, following their bliss probably costs them a few bucks as they travel to watch butterflies in migration, take trips into the field, observe or breed them or simply create a fine collection of butterflies, skippers and/or moths for display or educational purposes. According to the Philosophy of Science Portal, Vladimir Nabokov, the famous author of classic novels who died in 1977, was a self-taught lapidopterist who specialized in butterflies. He was an avid collector who also functioned as curator of lepidoptera at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He died while on a butterfly hunt.
- kaycircle.com; How Much Does a Lepidopterist Make Per Year?: Average Lepidopterist Salary; Margaret Walker; January 2011
- Philosophy of Science Portal; Nonfiction: Nabokov Theory on Butterfly Evolution Is Vindicated; Carl Zimmer; January 2011
- US Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Lepidopterist; 2010
Malinda Zellman has instructed computer, ESL and GED classes. She is a retired homeschooler and school librarian. She is contributing author for two books, "Games" and "Crafts," by Group Publishing. She has written for print magazines and websites. She holds two BA degrees, business administration and economics, from Rollins College.