Sarah Parmor is originally from North Wales, and after going to University in Cardiff to study dentistry, she worked a...
- Study insects to help with conservation and our understanding of how they impact life on our planet
- A rewarding career for someone with a passion for insects
- New opportunities are opening up in this field as our understanding of the potential for insects and the threats to them grows
Insects play a vital role in the health of our planet, and their characteristics, behaviours, and evolutionary development have contributed to hugely important design, medical, and engineering breakthroughs, so those who study them have an important role to play.
As an entomologist your work will focus on the scientific study of insects, quite often focusing in on one group of insects or one aspect of their biology or behaviour.
- Designing and conducting scientific research in your chosen aspect of entomology
- Collecting data
- Analysing and reporting on your results
- Carrying out fieldwork
Depending on the insects you are studying this may give you the opportunity to travel to remote locations. You may also need to present your work at conference or if you are working in a university you might teach modules based on your work.
Most entomologists start by getting a degree in a relevant area - there are very few specialist undergraduate degrees (there is a BSc in Zoology with Entomology at Harper Adams University), but there are a significant number of universities who offer related degrees with specialist modules in entomology. Relevant degree subjects include biology and zoology. To specialise further, you might then go on to do a master's degree focused on entomology, and then you can progress to a PhD in this field which will develop your research skills and help you gain deep specialist knowledge in a particular area of interest. The Royal Entomological Society website has details of courses that specialise in this field.
Choosing science subjects at school - particularly biology, is a good way to start.
Building up experience and knowledge by joining and/or volunteering for wildlife charities, university societies, or conservation organisations is a good way to build your knowledge, networks, and experience before applying for roles.
You'll need a passion for insects and a willingness to work with large numbers of them, strong science skills, curiosity and investigation skills, logical thinking and problem solving skills.
There are new opportunities in this field developing all the time as the role of insects in our ecosystems and food chain become more recognised, so you could apply for roles in academic research and teaching, in a conservation organisation, or in a commercial organisation which works with insects.
Entomologists usually work for universities or specialist research organisations, although some may work in more commercial settings like pharmaceutical research, in zoos, or in the increasing number of businesses that are developing insects as a food source. Another specialist field of entomology is forensic entomology, in which an entomologist advises the police or other authorities on aspects of crimes based on the development stage of insects found in human remains at a crime scene.