How to Become an Entomologist: Career Path Guide
If you want to become an entomologist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as an entomologist:
Those who become entomologists are strong in academics and are emotionally stable, as this is required to complete all of the necessary education and find a suitable job. Aspiring entomologists must have a very strong desire to study insects and their ecology, and be able to prepare articulate reports based on their methods and their findings. They must posses the intellect, curiosity, creativity, patience and perseverance required to pursue answers to complex research questions.
Would you like to find out more? Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an entomologist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed to Become an Entomologist
Bachelor's Degree: A bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level entomologist jobs, such as Laboratory Assistant or Forest Health Survey Coordinator for the government. Ideally, candidates should have a degree in a field that provides students with a solid foundation in biology, specifically as it related to insects and ecology (as finding an undergraduate degree in ‘entomology’ is rare), as well as coursework in ‘entomology’ or ‘biology of insects and invertebrates’.
Master's Degree: Completing a master’s degree related to entomology is a great way to open doors for your career. Having a master’s degree opens up doors to work as a research assistant, junior-level researcher, or earn a senior-level position with government agencies and environmental consulting firms. Also, some non-tenured teaching positions require only a master's degree.
Doctoral Degree: Having a Ph.D. in a field related to entomology typically qualifies someone for the same positions as a master’s degree, as well as teaching and primary research positions in entomology. It may also qualify them for a higher level of pay than candidates with a master’s degree.
Success Tip: Research successful entomology graduate programs, such as those with a large faculty involved in entomology, as well as a high number of successful graduates in the field.
Entomologist Job Description
Entomologists are responsible for studying the classification, biodiversity, life cycles and ecology of insects. They must also plan and implement surveys, research studies and pest management programs.
The research they are involved in plays a key role in understanding how ecosystems function, how they are changing, and how we can effectively protect them. Since entomologists help us understand insect populations and habitats, they also play a key role in industries such as agriculture, forestry, and in managing insect populations to protect public health.
Entomologist Job Duties
• Plan and coordinate public education programs
• Prepare information to help the public identify insects
• Conduct field and laboratory testing of pesticides in order to evaluate their effect on different species of insects under different conditions
• Conduct research regarding the impact of pest problems
• Study insect physiology, habitat and distribution
• Prepare recommendations regarding methods of preventing the importation and spread of harmful insects
• Investigate and evaluate the role of insect pests in forests, agriculture, human health and the environment
Getting Entomologist Work Experience as a Student
As many jobs in biology and entomology are highly competitive, it is extremely important to acquire practical experience during your undergraduate and graduate years.
Most university departments offer a number of summer job opportunities for research assistants. There may also be similar openings for summer students in government agencies and private industry. Be sure to ask your school’s career resources counselor or your biology and entomology professors to give you information about any such opportunities.
These opportunities not only provide you with valuable work experience, they allow you to network and get your foot in the door with an organization that works in entomology. This will be extremely useful when you apply for graduate school or a permanent job.
Entomologist Salary: How Much Do Entomologists Earn?
The salary level of entomologists can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, the specific duties of their job, where they work, their area of specialty, and many others.
Entomologist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Biologists and Related Scientists occupational group, which includes entomologists, earn an average from between $26.73 and $62.00 per hour. The mean wage for this group is $39.83 per hour.
Entomologist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary for workers in the Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists occupational group is $62,500 per year. The lowest 10 percent of salaries in this occupational group are below $37,100, and the highest 10 percent are above $95,430 per year.
Working Conditions for Entomologists
The work settings, conditions and duties of entomologists can vary greatly from one field of specialty or one employer to the next. Below are examples of the primary types of settings for entomologist careers:
Office: Entomologist working in an office setting provide advice and counsel to businesses, environmental groups or government agencies. Entomologists that work in office settings typically work during normal weekday hours.
Classroom: These entomologists typically conduct lectures, grade papers and advise students. They have working hours that can fluctuate from very few hours a week to a very heavy workload. They may work normal weekday working hours with extra hours put in for preparing lesson plans, grading papers and performing other duties during evenings and weekends. Some entomologists teaching in universities and colleges may teach classes exclusively, or they may be involved in research as well.
Laboratory: These zoologists spend the majority of their time conducting, documenting and analyzing research in a laboratory setting. Working in a laboratory typically involves working directly with animals, and may involve working with hazardous organic materials and inorganic chemicals. These zoologists typically work during normal weekday hours.
Field Work: Field entomologists are involved in the identification and documentation of species, ecosystems, populations and habitats, as well as the collection of biological samples. Entomologists who perform work in the field are subject to a variety of weather conditions and work hazards. Their work also has an element of danger, as they may deal with poisonous or infectious insects.
Who Hires Entomologists…and Why?
Entomologists are hired by large and small organizations in both the public and the private sector for a variety of purposes, ranging from advising on how to reduce the threat of infectious disease, to assisting in the development of new agricultural products.
Federal, provincial/state, or municipal government departments: Entomologists are typically hired by governments of all levels for such purposes as helping to prevent the spread of invasive invertebrates.
Colleges and universities: Entomologists working in colleges and universities are typically hired to teach entomology courses and/or conduct research.
Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing companies: These companies hire entomologists to conduct research and demonstrate new products for people in the medical and pharmaceutical communities.
Pest- and disease-control organizations: These organizations typically hire entomologists to advise on matters related to pest-control and insect identification.
Agriculture and food production companies: Hire entomologist to develop products for the agricultural and food industry.
Biotechnology companies: Hire entomologists to develop products for the agricultural, forestry and medical communities.
Museums: Entomologists working in museums are typically hired to assist in the development and curating of various exhibits and displays, as well as provide information for visitors regarding these exhibits and displays.
Environmental consulting firms: Hire entomologists to provide insect identification services, advise clients on insect control or conduct environmental impact assessments.
Self-employed (consultant): Entomologists working as self-employed consultants are hired to provide insect identification services, advise clients on insect control or conduct environmental impact assessments.
Our job board below has "Entomologist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Careers Similar to Entomologist
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to that of Entomologist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: How to Become an Entomologist
Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an entomologist.
Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca
ECO Canada website: www.eco.ca
North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research - Bioscience Careers website: www.aboutscience.org
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov
Scholarships for Becoming an Entomolgist
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming an Entomologist: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an entomologist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!