How to Become a Parasitologist

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What is Parasitology Top Courses and Careers (2) (1)

Did you know that there are over 800 species of a parasite called ticks found on our furry friends? Studying and analyzing bacteria, parasites, and virus microbes is the job of a Parasitologist. Parasitology is a branch of medicine and biology in which students study parasites and parasitic diseases and their interaction with their hosts. It is one of the most essential and underexplored jobs in the world! If you wish to explore the world through a microscopic lens then here is how you can become a Parasitologist!

Also Read: How to Become a Bacteriologist?

Who is a Parasitologist?

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A parasitologist studies parasites, which are organisms that live in or on a host organism and derive nutrients at the expense of their hosts. Parasites influence their hosts in different ways like causing their death or causing diseases by comprising the immune system. Parasitologists study these parasites- their life cycles, reproduction, infestation, biology and genetics, their relationship with their hosts and look for ways to treat and prevent diseases caused by them. These parasites can be in the form of viruses, bacteria, worms, or insects and one recent example of the effect a virus can have is Coronavirus. Parasitologists can study the effect of parasites either on humans, plants or animals and can work in a variety of fields like medicine, agriculture, wildlife, and other fields related to biology like microbiology, immunology, pathology.

Also Read: Life Science Courses

Roles and Responsibilities of a Parasitologist 

  • Researching about parasites and the effect they have on the host bodies
  • Study growth, structure, development and general characteristics of parasites to understand their relationship to human, plant and animal life
  • Studying the genetics of parasites 
  • Research vaccines and treatments for parasite-related illnesses
  • Pinpoint diseases in humans, plants or animals and curing it.
  • Wildlife Parasitologists can develop programs designed to protect animals in their natural environment
  • Using parasites as biological control agents against crop insects
  • Study parasite evolution and their interactions with the environment
  • Prepare technical reports and recommendations based on research outcomes
  • Supervise laboratory facilities and ensure quality and efficiency of research projects

How to Become a Parasitologist

Parasitology examines the ongoing and changing relationship between host and parasite and individuals can work in a variety of different fields. In order to pursue parasitology as a career, students would have to attend a medical college. You would have to follow the career path given below:

Complete your Schooling

First, complete your 10+2 or equivalent. In order to take up parasitology as a field of study, you would have to choose the science stream compulsorily. Studying and getting high grades in Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology will prove helpful to take admission in a medical college. 

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree 

To kickstart your career as a parasitologist, you have to first pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry or a related field in biology like microbiology, pathology, and immunology as bachelor courses offered solely in parasitology are very few. Students are advised to have strong coursework in maths and statistics as well as science.  BSc is a 3-4 year degree program and requires students to give a medical entrance examination like NEET(India)/MCAT, depending on where they live. 

Find an Internship/Job

While studying, you can look for internships and work opportunities. These prove beneficial as they help you gain practical experience and can lead directly into jobs and networking opportunities, as well as strengthen your qualifications. You can intern or take up a job as a research assistant at a research facility.

Pursue your Masters

Students wanting to work primarily in research and lab work should choose to pursue a master’s degree specializing in parasitology. As the bachelor course helps to build a foundation in biology, specializing in parasitology topics like cellular biology, entomology, zoonotic diseases, parasitic diseases, agricultural studies, botany, and dynamic ecosystems through the master’s degree would prove helpful.  MSc in Parasitology is a research-intensive 1-2 year program that provides students with the opportunity to gain experience to work in laboratories. 

Doctorate

To advance to better positions, lead research projects, or teach in universities and colleges as a professor, parasitologists should pursue a doctorate degree as a professional with a PhD is given preference. You can choose to either focus on medical parasitology, agricultural parasitology, wildlife parasitology or build an academic career as a professor.

Top Universities to Pursue Parasitology

Universities offer various bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate courses in Parasitology or other related health and biology fields that can help you pursue your career as a parasitologist. Here is a list of those top 20 ranked universities around the world according to the subject Life Sciences and Medicine:

University Location
Harvard University Cambridge, United States
University of Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom
Stanford University Stanford, United States
University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, United States
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, United States
University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, United States
Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, United States
UCL London, United Kingdom
Yale University New Haven, United States
Imperial College London London, United Kingdom
University of Toronto Toronto, Canada
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, United States
University of Washington Seattle, United States
Columbia University New York City, United States
Duke University Durham, United States
The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) San Diego, United States
University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark

Courses for Parasitologists

  • MSc Parasitology 
  • MSc Medical Parasitology
  • MSc Parasitology and Pathogen Biology 
  • MSc Infectious Diseases
  • MSc Animal Diseases
  • MSc Infection Biology (Parasitology Specialism) 
  • MRes Parasite Control 
  • MSc Medical Entomology for Disease Control
  • MSc Control of Infectious Diseases 
  • MSc Medical Microbiology 
  • MSc Immunology
  • PhD Infection and Immunity 
  • PhD Microbiology
  • PhD Parasitology

Parasitologists work in medical fields like epidemiology, immunology and microbiology,  food, agriculture or academic fields and can be employed in pharmaceutical companies, research facilities, environmental firms, clinical laboratories, universities, public health departments, and government institutions. Depending upon their choice of specialization and level of study, parasitologists can be employed as:

  • Medical Parasitologists
  • Ecological Parasitologists
  • Agricultural Parasitologists
  • Parasitologist Professor
  • Veterinary Parasitologists
  • Microbiologists

The average salary of a parasitologist in India is around Rs 10 lakhs per year. Whereas the average salary of in the USA is $84,400 – $112,940 (INR 63,09,811 – INR84,43,484).

Also Read: How to Become a Virologist?

Parasitology is extremely popular in countries like the UK and the USA as an area of study and research. If you are a biology buff and wish to explore the world of nature, then becoming a parasitologist can be your gateway! To study abroad, call our Leverage Edu experts on 1800 572 000 and be an early bird applicant with us!

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