How to Become a Herpetologist 2021


If you've always loved snakes, turtles, frogs, and lizards, becoming a herpetologist could be the perfect career for you! Herpetologists work in a field of science that focuses on the study of amphibians and reptiles. Education and training are required to successfully enter the field, so you'll need to earn at least a Bachelor's Degree in biology or a closely related subject. It's also a great idea to gain some experience in herpetology by volunteering or becoming an intern. Once you've got the right education and experience, you can work as a herpetologist for the government, zoological parks, and museums, or as a researcher or college professor.


Part 1 of 3:Getting the Right Education

1Research herpetology programs. Herpetology is a specialized field, so your local college may not offer the courses you need. Find out which schools offer degree programs with an emphasis on herpetology, and contact several of the colleges and universities that do. Reach out to each college to ask what types of programs they offer and to learn more about the school.

Herpetology programs are offered at several schools, from the University of Wisconsin Madison and Ohio University to the University of Florida, so do your research to find which school would be the best fit for you.

2Obtain a Bachelor's Degree. A basic requirement for becoming a herpetologist is to have a Bachelor's Degree with a concentration in biology. Your studies should be comprehensive and focus on reptile and amphibian biology, zoology, conservation and ecology, animal physiology, and animal behavior.

3Take classes in science, math, and English. You should take a variety of courses, such as physics, chemistry, and earth science. Biological studies will require that you have skills in statistics and advanced mathematics courses such as calculus. Develop your writing and research skills as well if you want to publish your work in peer-reviewed, professional and academic journals.

4Earn a graduate degree. It's important to realize that more advanced positions within the field of herpetology generally require a Master of Science in Biology or a Ph.D. in Biology. Educational requirements depend on the type of position and responsibilities and whether you choose to focus on a specialized area during your studies, but earning a graduate degree will give you an edge over the competition.

5Read books and scientific papers on herpetology. It's important to be well-versed in the field of herpetology. Purchase or borrow books from the library relating to your field, and sign up for newsletters from herpetology associations. You can also subscribe to professional journals and publications to learn about advancements in herpetology.

Part 2 of 3:Gaining Experience

1Become an intern or a research assistant. Completing an internship or becoming a research assistant will help you gain experience in the field. You will likely work under a herpetologist and assist them with their duties, which can range from collecting and analyzing animal specimens to assessing the effects of the environment on animals.

You can contact organizations directly yourself or work with your college career counselor to make arrangements.

Colleges, research labs, and even museums or zoos are good places to look for internships.

2Volunteer in the field. Think about possible volunteer work at a national park or wildlife management center. You could also volunteer in a research lab, or a museum, zoo, or aquarium. Volunteer during the summer semesters when you are not in school, or even on evenings or weekends. Not only will you gain valuable experience, but you'll also get to work in a hands-on job with the amphibians and reptiles you are so fond of.

3Join the Herpetologists League. Consider joining a science club or herpetological society, like the Herpetologists League. Becoming a member can help you learn more about the field and provide opportunities to get actively involved in projects that they may be sponsoring. Museums focusing on zoology or natural history are also a good place to acquire some additional knowledge.

4Attend herpetology events. Think about attending conferences and seminars for herpetologists. This is a great place to learn more about the science of herpetology and to meet others already working as herpetologists. Networking with others in your field can even help you land the job you want, as they may have knowledge of openings or be able to recommend you for a position.

5Register with a professional association. Join a professional association, such as the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, that offers membership benefits to its associates. You will have access to a variety of publications and generally a newsletter in addition to other tools of the trade. Some associations may sponsor scholarships for those enrolled in college programs studying to be a herpetologist.

6Find a mentor. Many people who now work in the field of herpetology had someone there to encourage them and give them tips along the way. Talk to one of your professors or someone you have connected with through an internship, volunteer position, or from a herpetology society or association you have joined. Pairing up with an experienced and knowledgeable herpetologist can help you find your way in this specialized field.

Part 3 of 3:Finding a Herpetology Job

1Look for herpetology positions online. Browse the Internet and explore the numerous job boards for a position as a herpetologist. Check sites like Careerbuilder and Indeed, and search for “herpetology” or “wildlife biology” to narrow down your results. You can also scan through job postings that are listed on the websites of professional associations and societies for herpetologists.

2Ask for a referral. Talk to your professors and members of leagues or associations you are a part of. Ask them if they know of any available positions as a herpetologist. You may even get a referral to a company or a letter of recommendation if you demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for herpetology.

3Apply for positions you want. Send, or deliver, an updated resume and cover letter to organizations you hope to gain employment with. Make sure your resume contains detailed information about your education as well as any experience you have in the field, like an internship. Write a cover letter that is specific to each position explaining why you'd be a good fit and what makes you stand apart from other candidates.

4Prepare yourself for interviews. If you are qualified for a position, the employer will want to interview you. Dress professionally and be courteous to everyone you encounter at the company. Research the company to find out more about the organization and position you are applying for before the interview. You should be prepared to answer questions from the interviewer, so try to anticipate what a few of these might be so you can think of how you'd like to answer them.

For example, an interviewer might ask you “Why did you become a herpetologist?” You can talk about your love for reptiles, your curiosity about amphibians, your prowess in science, etc.

5Persevere and be persistent. It may be difficult to find a position, but don't give up. Keep looking, persevere, and be persistent during your search for a career as a herpetologist. Consider taking an entry-level position to start in order to gain valuable experience and you will gradually advance toward higher level positions with more responsibility.