Parasitology

Parasitology is the study of organisms that live on or in other organisms (hosts), from which they get nutrients. Read on to find out more about parasitology, a sub-discipline of microbiology, as well as career and education options in this field.

Inside Parasitology

Parasitology is the study of small organisms that require the body of another, called a host, for reproduction, shelter and food. These organisms are called parasites. Some parasites cause disease, while other parasites are harmless or nonpathogenic. Parasitologists analyze the parasite-host relationship and its effect on the health of humans, animals and ecosystems.

Education Information

Most parasitology degree programs are offered at the master's and doctoral levels; however, there are undergraduate programs in biology with a specialization in microbiology and parasitology, or courses and / or research opportunities in parasitology. Parasitologists must have the abilities to recognition parasitic infections and the various stages of the life-cycle of a parasite. Coursework often includes biochemistry, zoology, aquatic biology, public health and biostatistics. Here are a few examples of training programs in parasitology.

Distance Learning Options

Aspiring parasitologists may receive their training from online degree programs, which can provide them with the knowledge and skills required to join the field of parasitology. Most programs are hybrid, online courses and on-campus labs. Here are a few of the distance education possibilities related to parasitology.

Required Skills

Skills needed to work as a parasitologist include computational skills gained by studying statistics, computers and math. Professionals in this field should also have good communication, lab and research skills.

Career Options

Parasitologists can work in the fields of public health or medicine as well as in veterinary sciences, aquaculture and agriculture. Entry-level jobs for students graduating with a bachelor's in the field consist mainly of research assistant positions in labs. Higher and more varied research positions may be available to graduates holding a master's degree.

A Ph.D. or M.D. is normally required for individuals who want to head either their own research lab or work in academia. Other careers include evolutionary biologist, immunologist, fisheries and wildlife biologist, molecular biologist, conservation biologist, educator and ecologist. The following links explore some of the job opportunities in the parasitology field.

Employment Information

A career in parasitology is an opportunity to better the lives and health of human and other living species, according to the American Society of Parasitologists (asp.unl.edu). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the middle 50% of medical scientists had annual incomes between $53,380-$107,250; biological scientists, $57,310-$87,350; and conservation scientists, $47,450-$74,930, as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov).

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
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        • Immunology
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    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
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