Job Title: Entomologist
Type of Company: I work for an organization that is responsible for controlling the mosquito populations in member towns.
Education: BS, Biology, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania MS, Entomology, University of Massachusetts
Previous Experience: I worked as a research assistant and teaching assistant in the entomology department at University of Massachusetts.
Job Tasks: I am primarily in charge of the arbovirus surveillance program in my member towns. I trap mosquitoes, identify the species they belong to and send them every week to the state lab for testing. To do this properly, I have to choose the appropriate trap types and sites, and hire an intern to assist me with my duties throughout the summer. I also write weekly and annual reports that are submitted to the proper state agencies. Other aspects of my job include evaluating the efficacy of our treatment program through additional trapping, and assisting with our water management program. Water management is a key component in our overall integrated pest management plan (IPM) and, in the simplest terms, means opening up waterways to allow water to flow as well as giving predators access to mosquitoes.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are being out in the field setting traps and in the lab identifying the mosquitoes. We also try to add a research project each summer that is related to our work. The research projects keep the work from becoming routine. The worst part of the job is writing reports, which means being stuck in the office in front of a computer. I feel more useful when I am in the field or lab.
Job Tips: Someone interested in this type of work should spend time volunteering or working as a technician in the field. Real world experience is the only way you will determine if you are actually interested in this kind of career. A minimum of a masters degree is required, so you will need to do well in school. I would also recommend joining a professional organization such as the Entomological Society of America. Their journals will give you an idea of what is going on in research and their meetings will provide you with an opportunity to meet people in the field.
Additional Thoughts: I feel like I am making a real difference in the quality of life the citizens in my towns enjoy. Having a job where you feel you contribute to society is very important. This job is not for everyone, though. You need to be able to work outside under any and all conditions (hot, cold, rain, snow). I have had difficulties in the past with people hired for this job who expect to stay inside on a cold, rainy day when the duty required is outside. Also, the lab work can become very routine. Many people find looking under a microscope for hours boring or tiresome. This part of the job is just as important as the field work.
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