Education of a Parasitologist

The university education of a parasitologist should whet the scientific curiosity and knowledge base that was begun in high school. Emphasis should be placed on attainment of a broad-based education in biology and chemistry. Overspecialization in one narrow field of the biological sciences will not lead to the range of knowledge required by most successful parasitologists. A good background in mathematics, computer science, and statistics will provide the computational skills that are required in virtually all areas of parasitology. The development of good writing and speaking skills is fundamental because every scientist must be able to communicate his ideas and results to others. Job opportunities in parasitology exist for people who attain a Bachelor of Science degree. Some possible positions include jobs in the food, agriculture, or pharmaceutical industries. Positions in clinical laboratories, environmental firms, or as research assistants in universities may involve work with parasites.

A Master of Science in Biology offers the opportunity for research as a graduate student with a parasitologist as a research advisor. Thesis research may involve laboratory or field study of parasites. It should be a goal of the Masters student to conduct a research project that can be published in a scientific journal. Although most parasitologists attaining an M.S. degree continue towards a doctoral degree, job opportunities that utilize the parasitology education and skills attained at the Masters level are available. Examples of vocations would include the fields of wildlife management, fisheries biology, aquaculture, animal husbandry, and human health care.

Most parasitology researchers hold either a Ph.D. or M.D. degree. Advantages of attaining a doctoral degree are numerous. Most tenure-track university faculty positions require a Ph.D. A doctoral degree greatly enhances opportunities to conduct research and to be successful at attaining funding to support research activities. Because the doctoral degree is the highest university degree that is awarded, the ability of a parasitologist to rise to the highest level in a chosen field whether in an academic institution, industry, or government is limited only by his or her talent and ability.

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