Herpetologist Career Profile

How do I become a herpetologist?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for the career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools, while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 17 May 2023


What is a Herpetologist?

A Herpetologist is a scientist who studies and works specifically with reptiles and amphibians.

Snake 1

Specialist Career

Zoology is the study of animals, with Herpetology being one of the various Branches or directions.

Herpetology is a main career on this platform as it is a specialized career with a specific career path to follow.

Career Categories

The Herpetologist career can be found within the following OZT career categories:​

  • Business
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Marine Conservation
  • Scientists
  • Zoos, Aquariums, Museums and Theme Parks

What does a Herpetologist do?

With which Groups of animals does a Herpetologist work with?

Reptiles List Icon OZT
Amphibians List Icon OZT

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

What does a Herpetologist focus on?

A Herpetologist focusses on the scientific study of a reptile or amphibian to enable to further the knowledge on each species.

The animals they work with can range from a few centimeters (inch or two), to the huge saltwater crocodile of green anaconda. The animals can be found on land, or in water,, such as salamanders and sea turtles.

What are the daily tasks of a Herpetologist?

  • Research species
  • Plan and travel to study area
  • Collect species for analysis
  • Collect data and take photographs
  • Keep proper record of species
  • Prepare animal for release
  • Write reports
  • Administration and filing

The working Environment of a Herpetologist

Where does a Herpetologist work?

Environment –

Herpetologists spend most of their time working outdoors. The environment could range between a small park to the middle of the Amazon forest!  Doing tests and writing reports can be done indoors.

Places of Employment –

In most cases a Herpetologist is employed by a research institution, university or even government. They may also be self employed.

What is the average annual salary of a Herpetologist?

The average salary of a permanent Herpetologist is around US$66,000 per year. The salary will depend on the country and level of the employer.

Private or self employed Herpetologists can earn a similar or higher income, depending on contracts. 

Can a Herpetologist be promoted?

Depending on the institution they are employed at, there could be good promotional opportunities.

Basic promotion levels:

Intern > Junior Herpetologist > Senior Herpetologist > Head of Department

What are the difficulties a Herpetologist may face?

The most difficult part of this career is being able to work with stressed animals. Learning to deal with such animals is important to make Herpetologist your ideal career.

They may also be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays and in difficult weather.

Future Growth and Career Outlook

The current annual growth for all zoology related careers is around 5%.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills are required for a Herpetologist?

The skills required for a career as a Herpetologist can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship
Life Skills

Career Skills

  • Animal handling
  • Animal care techniques
  • Customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
Career Skills

Which subjects must I have at school to prepare for this career?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become a Herpetologist?

Minimum educational requirements

Generally, Herpetologists must have at least a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree for an entry level job.

More scientific jobs will require a minimum of a Masters Degree..

Study Focus

Major –

Study towards subjects such as biology, animal behavior, animal science, or zoology. Further focus on herpetology subjects will be required.

Short Courses –

Much of the practical things you will do need to be learned through the completion of short courses, such as snake wrangling, first aid etc.

Study Duration

The duration of Bachelor’s Degrees are between 3 and 4 years. Masters can take another 2 to 3 years. short courses differ, but can range from a few days to a few weeks.

Possible Career Preparation Paths

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to go.

Possible Path(s):

Possible Combined Career Paths

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternative(s):

Training and apprenticeship

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need will be acquired through on-the-job training. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

In some cases entry level positions (or junior zoologists) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior person or expert. The more hands on careers, such as herpetologists,  might require apprenticeship.

Join the Herpetologists Group to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of those entering this career

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certificates, Registration and Professional Organizations

Certain animal care careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Learn more about requirements by joining the OZT Community.

Professional Organizations

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards herpetology.

Do you have information that you would like to contribute to this career profile? Please click on the red beetle to access the contribution form.

OZT Community Logo

Join our OZT Community and the career Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a Herpetologist.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge 
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Herpetologist, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, and non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu to start a new search and learn about a different career.

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Career Profiles and Resources

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Contributions by expert members are always appreciated to allow the Students to make informed decisions. Please add your contribution through the attached Form:

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List of Career Mentors/Educators who have contributed to this Career info:


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