According to the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, herpetologists begin as biologists and specialize in the study of amphibians and reptiles. A herpetologist studies how these cold-blooded animals live, adapt and behave in their environment. Many herpetologists work in zoos, wildlife organizations and educational institutions. The lack of jobs in the field of herpetology forces herpetologists to take jobs outside of their interest, which can affect earnings.
Museum curators and scientists dedicate a great deal of time to studying amphibians and reptiles. Herpetologists employed by museums earn between $30,000 and $80,000 annually, as noted by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Museum collection managers earn between $18,000 and $45,000 to care for preserved amphibian and reptile remains. Museum assistants earn between $12,000 and $18,000 per year. Museum curators’ wages vary depending on the industry. For example, a curator employed by the museum, historical sites and similar institutions earned $50,380, according to 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Curators employed by the federal executive branch earned $79,440.
The society also reports that herpetology instructors employed by universities earn between $30,000 and $80,000 per year. Full-time herpetology research assistants earn between $17,000 and $35,000 annually. Herpetologists also teach biology courses in colleges and universities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that postsecondary biology teachers earned an annual mean wage of $90,890 in colleges, universities and professional schools in 2010. Teachers employed by scientific research and development services earned an annual mean wage of $140,600.
Zoos and Wildlife Agencies
A herpetologist employed by a zoological park earns between $30,000 and $50,000 as a zoo curator or supervisor, according to the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Herpetology specialists earn between $15,000 and $25,000 as zookeepers. Zoologists and wildlife biologists employed by the federal executive branch earned $77,030 in 2010, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics wage estimates. The scientific research and development services industry paid an annual mean wage of $72,410. Zoologists and wildlife professionals in the District of Columbia and Maryland earned annual mean wages of $106,540 and $97,370, respectively.
Future Job Outlook
Herpetologists fall under the main category of biological scientists and the subcategory of zoologists and wildlife biologists based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational handbook. The bureau predicts a 21 percent increase in job opportunities for zoologists and wildlife biologists due to biotechnological research and development. In 2010, zoologists and wildlife biologists earned an annual mean wage of $61,660.