Job opportunities in the arena of public health are not only limited to caring for the people in the community, but also evaluating interactions with and influences within the environment.  Many diseases and infections are spread through non-human vectors, and public safety is as much an investigation of human habits as it is of animal habits.  For people who are fascinated by biology and the outdoors, but still seek a stable employment position, the job of public health entomologist can be a valid path to pursue.

Many of the scientific fields are academically influenced and funded, which can lead to job instability.  As an entomologist for the Public Health Department, you would be able to enjoy a steady salary as well as job security in serving the community. 

What Is An Entomologist?

An entomologist is basically a scientist who studies insects and their behavior and life cycles.  In the field of public health, entomologist will apply their research data to determine the effects that insects have on the community.  This can include the part that insects play on environmental safety, but also on public health in regards to spreading disease, or creating harmful health situations.

Entomologists study insects both in the natural habitat and under controlled situations in the lab.  Along with observing life stages and migration patterns, you would also look at the movement and habits of insects in the urban environment, including businesses and households.  The information that you discover is shared with health professionals in an effort to increase public safety and reduce the incidence of direct and indirect harm to the human population.

An entomologist for the public health department would commonly engage in the following tasks:

  •   Conduct studies and experiments with insects that are present either in the wild or in the lab.
  •   Deduce patterns within the insect population as they relate to the impact on the community.
  •   Analyze biological samples from insects to determine harmful components such as toxins or disease.
  •   Observe trends in populations, of both humans on insects and insects on humans.
  •   Report pertinent findings to other health departments and healthcare professionals.
  •   Provide educational materials for the community, regarding potentially harmful interactions with insects.
  •   Devise strategies to promote public health, such as with awareness programs for tick-borne diseases or emergency protocols for toxicity with spider bites.
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On a personal level, these qualities will also help you excel in a career as an entomologist:

  •   Observation skills:  You will need to be detail oriented and focused in observing the habits and trends within insect populations.  This will also be important when assessing human and insect interactions within the community.
  •   Critical thinking:  You will need to be able to come up with plans of action based on the information you have gathered.  This will also include deducing long term impacts and potential dangers that may be present between insect and human communities. 
  •   Physical and psychological fortitude:  You will need to be able to spend extended periods of time in the field, and this may be in isolated regions and without other human contact.  The strength to persevere in this venues is very important to your job and your wellbeing. 
  •   Interpersonal skills:  As an entomologist, you may work with other scientists and health professionals in sharing information and collaborating on promoting community health and safety.  This will require that you can communicate well and interact productively with people in other specialties. 
  •   Outdoorsmanship:  Knowledge of survival skills and outdoor safety conduct will also be a must for this job, as much of your time may outdoors in a variety of conditions.

Nature Of The Work

An entomologist will spend a lot of time outdoors, in the field in an urban setting, and in the lab.  As well, a certain amount of office time will also be devoted to writing reports and articles, or developing educational materials for the public.  While some entomologists will work out of a health department office, you may also find that you are in a university setting or research facility.

Along with research activities, you will also be engaged in public education.  This may occur in a school or community center setting, but is sometimes conducted through tours of the lab and field trips with groups from the community.  Some entomologists will collaborate with conservation organizations to provide greater community outreach, and be able to interact with the public through these channels.

Education And Training

If you are interested in becoming an entomologist you will need a minimum of four years of higher education in zoology, entomology, biology, or similar fields.  Graduate and post-graduate degrees can play highly into your advancement capacity, and may also determine the greater scope of the work you are asked to do within the community.  There is no expected certification for this position, but experience in survival techniques and outdoor protocols are considered in review for the job.

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This career path offers an important way of balancing community welfare and environmental factors, to identify health impacts in either direction.  In the public health sector, this also bridges the academic and practical application of information.  For a very specialized career option, it is expected to see an average growth rate over the next decade, with an increase of about 1,000 jobs nationally.  This is, however, a very secure position since scientific and community familiarity plays a great part in effectiveness. 

The pay for this position can range based on the municipality which employs you and your education level, but the average is about $57,000 annually.  The job of entomologist for the public health department can provide you with good wages and job security while pursuing scientific interests.

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