Looking for advice on career change

Hi everyone,

I am considering a potential career change to entomology, and I'm looking for advice/suggestion/anecdotes about working in the field. How is the job market? I already have a Master in Public Health degree, but it's not been as fulfilling as I'd hoped and my interest in science has been growing (I've always been interested in bugs generally, but it's become more focused).

Many thanks in advance!

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  • What did you decide Miranda?  With your background in public health, I would recommend you consider med-vet entomology.  You might as well take advantage of your current background, a plus that many entomologists don't have--it will help you compete in med-vet entomology jobs.  Furthermore, there is a huge epidemic in tick borne diseases going on in the US right now, with not nearly enough being done to stop it. Also, the baby boomers are retiring now, and there are getting to be more and more vacancies all the time.  You might consider government research in entomology, like the Agricultural Research Service.

  • Miranda,

    My path has been similar to Sandra's. I am an urban/landscape entomologist and until recently worked for a small pesticide manufacturer. That position was very extension-like and diverse. Many urban entomologists work for pest control companies as technical directors. They are very hands-on but also travel a lot. In my observations, USDA entomologists tend to do a lot of research and don't travel as much as the pest control technical directors. You may also want to look into land-grant university extension positions as they also tend to be hands-on.

    I will be more than happy to suggest additional folks to talk to, if you are interested.

    Janet Kintz-Early


  • Lots of us are retiring so there will be jobs. I have really enjoyed my career as an entomologist in the USDA. To get an idea of jobs in the Federal government, go to USAJOBS.gov and search for entomologists' positions. Good luck!

  • Are you wanting to do something that utilizes your current background in public health involving entomology and public health pests or do you want to go a completely new route like crop or forest entomology? Also, what is it about your current career that you don't like? Are you interested in changing into something more research related, public outreach and education types of things, or development of products in industry? There are really a lot different ways to go. It would help if we had a little more information I think.

    • Hi Sandra, I'm interested in both public health and learning about ways to use beneficial insects to protect crops and wild lands. What I don't find satisfying about public health is a) how much of it is focused on desk-job type work and b) how non-tactile it is. So much of what I do feels like it has no real impact or practical focus. I'm interested in something that would allow me to be outside (or out of an office more), contributing to a body of work that feels less arbitrary. 

    • Okay, well there are a lot of options with your broad interests. Generally speaking the more education you get the more you will be sitting at a desk and writing and thinking, etc. I have a master's in ento and am mostly at my desk as a technical service coordiantor at MGK. I do get out some and go on ride alongs or to conferences, but I'm not really involved in research. I have a pretty limited world view and mostly only know what's going on in my life. So not a lot of perspective on the state of the field and job market. I can say that I moved to the twin cities last year for my husband's job and got a job in 4 months, but there weren't very many advertised for entomologists, however there weren't very many applicants either I don't think. The more flexible you can be in where you work the more job options you will have. If you tie in your public health experience with entomological public health pests like mosquitoes you could have a pretty big advantage in that area. If you get into research you will have more hands on, and outdoorsy things to do. If you are looking at grad schools. I suggest talking to my friend Becky (Dr. Rebecca Trout-Fryxell) at Univ of Tenn. She does vector research and would be a great adviser in my opinion. You can look at her research and get her email on the Univ web site.

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