While pet-keeping suffices for many herp enthusiasts, some with particularly deep interests can only be happy when working with reptiles and amphibians full time. My own path to career in herpetology, while twisted (even “tortuous” at times!), was well worth the struggle…as you can see by the attached photos, I’m very fortunate (please also see this article). In Part 1 I highlighted several important steps one can take to lay the foundation for a career in herpetology. Following are some further thoughts.
Join Local Herpetological Societies
Friendships, field trips, opportunities to be published – just take a look at The NY Turtle & Tortoise Society to see what is possible. This group, my favorite, sponsors and supports turtle-viewing expeditions, day-long seminars featuring leading herpetologists, local and international rescue efforts, turtle shows, legislative updates and much more; not all herp societies are as well-organized, but there is great potential everywhere.
Professional Groups and Publications
If possible, join a professional herpetological organization and read its journal (note: none are inexpensive, but student memberships are sometimes available). This will introduce you to research, people and opportunities of which you may be unaware. My favorite is the Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles.
Zoo and Museum Memberships
Member-only benefits such as behind the scenes tours of the American Museum of Natural History’s herpetology collection left life-long impressions on me, and have shaped the futures of many biologists…there are unlimited possibilities.
Volunteer work with zoos, museums, nature centers, professors and others is rewarding and may lead to employment opportunities; please see the article below.
A 4 year degree is needed for most entry level herp-related jobs (including animal keeper). Advanced degrees will broaden your opportunities and adventures.
Cornell University and the Universities of Kansas and Florida, among others, are famous for producing noted herpetologists. Please see the ASIH article below for a list of schools and ideas.
Options abound…I know of people that pursue their passion for herps by working as photographers, veterinary technicians, breeders, bio-medical researchers, writers, rescue center operators and teachers…it’s a tough field to break into, but well, well, worth the effort.
New York Turtle & Tortoise Society’s Turtle Rescues in Brooklyn: a fine example of a herp society in action.
Careers in Herpetology (Society of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists); includes a list of colleges and universities known for strong herpetology programs.