- Study the biology, behaviour, and conservation of reptiles and amphibians
- Opportunities to work closely with animals and to travel around the world
- You'll need excellent research skills, a methodical approach, and a passion for wildlife
As a herpetologist, your work will focus on the scientific study of reptiles and amphibians, to help us understand more about their biology, behaviour, and how they fit into and benefit our environment.
- Carrying out field and laboratory research
- Studying animals in their natural environment or in captivity
- Identifying, recording and monitoring animal species
- Gathering and interpreting information
- Using complex procedures, like computerised molecular and cellular analysis
- Producing detailed technical reports
- Giving presentations and publishing information in journals and books
- Supervising technicians
You might spend part of your time in a lab or office, and part of your time studying animals in the field. This may mean working overseas and staying away from home for long periods of time. Studying animals in the wild might involve monitoring behaviour, assessing population numbers, and designing and delivering conservation projects.
Herptetologists work in a range of settings like university departments, zoos, and specialist conservation organisations.
You'll need a passion for reptiles and amphibians, strong science skills, curiosity and investigation skills, logical thinking and problem solving skills.
Most herpetologists start by getting a degree in a relevant area - there are very few specialist undergraduate degrees (there is a BSc in Zoology with Herpetology at Bangor University for example), but there are a significant number of universities who offer related degrees with specialist modules in herpetology. Relevant degree subjects include biology and zoology. To specialise further, you might then go on to do a master's degree focused on herpetology 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.
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.
With experience, you could progress on to become an environmental specialist or scientist, an agricultural and food scientist, or a conservation scientist or specialist.