CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 22, 2015
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5 Career Paths for Parasitologists

Parasites affect human beings, plants and animals in several ways. While many of them transmit and cause diseases, others enjoy symbiotic relationships with their hosts. Parasitology – the scientific study of parasites – is, therefore, a wide field that offers a number of career specializations for aspiring parasitologists. We have already covered what it takes to become a medical parasitologist, so this article concentrates on other available specializations.

1. Veterinary Parasitology

Veterinary pathologists focus on studying parasites that attack domestic animals. They investigate the kind of relationships various parasites have with their animal hosts, as well as the lifecycles and living needs of these parasites. Beyond conducting research, veterinary parasitologists also diagnose and treat parasitological diseases in animals. Aspiring veterinary parasitologists must join schools of veterinary medicine and study veterinary parasitology. They can be hired by parasitology research facilities and animal hospitals. According to Indeed, veterinary parasitologists earn an average annual salary of $87,000.

2. Wildlife Parasitology

If you don’t fancy working with domestic animals, then you can pursue a master’s degree in wildlife parasitology. As a wildlife parasitologist, you will focus on improving the health of wild species that live in both land and water. You will also help wildlife managers devise effective strategies for minimizing the negative effects of parasites. Employers of wildlife parasitologists include wildlife conservancies and government agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Simply Hired reports individuals looking to specialize in wildlife parasitology can expect to earn $52,000 a year.

3. Parasitology Education

Parasitology educators work in colleges and universities that offer parasitology programs. Their job is to instruct and nurture future parasitologists. Like many higher education lecturers who teach sciences, parasitology educators conduct lessons in classrooms and laboratories, administer examinations and give career guidance to students. Although a master’s degree in parasitology can secure you this job, many institutions prefer individuals with a doctoral degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes all biological science lecturers earn an average annual salary of $87,080.

4. Ecological Parasitology

Ecological or systematic parasitologists study the evolution of parasites and their interaction with their hosts. They use their research findings to classify parasites into taxonomic units. This involves placing parasites with similar characteristics into small groups. Ecological parasitologists can also study patterns of parasite transmission. Individuals who wish to enter this field must earn at least a master’s degree in parasitology with concentrations in ecological, evolutionary or systematic parasitology. They are mainly hired by parasitology research facilities. Although the average annual salary for ecological parasitologists is not well defined, you can look forward to earning around $60,370 a year. This is the annual average salary for all parasitologists, regardless of specialization.

5. Immunoparasitology

Some parasites can live on or in the bodies of their hosts for several years without killing them. Immunoparasitologists study how hosts gradually become immune to the negative effects of parasites. Their findings are used to develop medications that can strengthen the immune systems of animals and human beings, hence preventing parasitological diseases. Immunoparasitologists can find jobs in research facilities, as well as pharmaceutical manufacturing firms. Prospective immunoparasitologists can also expect to earn around $60,000 annually.

Finally, the American Society of Parasitologists offers membership opportunities to all parasitologists. Hopefully, the article has shed more light on parasitology specializations, so your task is to identify the one that suits your interests.

Image source: Oldcastle Laboratories Ltd

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