Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What makes an entomologist?

According to ESA member and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, there are nearly 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 quintillion) insects in the world. More than one million different species of insects have been identified, but some experts believe that there may be as many as 30 million insect species in the world that have yet to be discovered and identified.

With that many insects it is a huge understatement that it takes a LOT of knowledge, training, and preparation to become an entomologist.  At a minimum, an entomologist is someone who has at least a 4-year degree in entomology. Most have earned a master's or PhD as well (over 70% of full ESA members (i.e., non-students) have earned a doctorate degree).

So the question becomes ... if a pest control professional wants to become an entomologist, how do they go about it?

The easy answer is to go to college. But -- with the daunting prospect of perhaps 12 years of education and many many thousands of dollars in tuition -- that's kind of a hard answer too.

Another path is to consider becoming an Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE). While you would not become a full entomologist, this may well be the next best thing. An ACE is someone who has documented their learning and knowledge of structural pest control by:

  • meeting the minimum qualifications of seven (five) years's experience*,
  • being a licensed applicator,
  • proving their mettle by agreeing to abide by the ACE Code of Ethics,  and
  • passing an examination of their knowledge of insects as it relates to urban pest management
  • Starting in 2014 an ACE is also going to have to start earning CEUs annually to maintain their certification.
I want to be clear that earning your ACE does not make you an entomologist. It makes you an Associate Certified Entomologist.This is not a degree equivalency, but it is a practical and proven way for a person to showcase their knowledge in pest control.

ACE is designed for those whose life path has led them down a more hands-on approach to education rather than a classroom setting. It is the future of pest management and any career professional who wants to meet the mark should be looking into it closely.

*  Post updated:  In October 2014 the Certification Board changed the requirement to five years' experience and added a new requirement for 2 letters of reference. Find the current requirements at www.entocert.org/ace.