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Pest Survey Specialist: Job Description and Duties

Sep 20, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pest survey specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Pest surveyors examine regions for potential infestation, and act accordingly to their results. They may have an education related to their field, but experience is of higher importance.

Essential Information

Pest survey specialists determine the current amount and distribution of plant pests in a specific area, usually a country, state or sub-region to which agricultural goods are exported. Information gathered from pest surveys can be used to predict and prevent future invasive species outbreaks; data might be used to determine the state or federal regulations for the quarantine of plant products. While education requirements vary, prospective pest survey specialists may benefit from schooling that focuses on forestry, agriculture or plant biology, and they should be familiar with pests that are of concern to specific regions.

Required Education Varies, but most employers seek individuals with an educational background in plant biology, forestry, or agriculture
Other Requirements Must be familiar with pests in the designated region and be able to walk long distances
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% (for pest control workers)
Median Salary (2018)* $35,610 annually (for pest control workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description and Duties

Pest survey specialists use technological modeling software, such as Geographic Information Systems, to determine when and where to conduct a survey as well as when to expect a potential pest in the area. They walk for long distances and use technical equipment to gather samples. These professionals often manage other members of the survey team and coordinate communication across several groups of program collaborators. They also ensure that pest information is entered into a public database in a timely manner and regularly review it for accuracy.

The Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey program (CAPS), which was developed by state and federal departments in the 1980s, employs pest survey specialists. Programs are usually run in conjunction with organizations, universities or industry groups. While the CAPS program is generally divided into different states, pest survey specialists may be responsible for surveys in more than one state. For example, this applies when a particular survey area borders or overlaps with a neighboring state.

In addition to conducting surveys, these professionals might develop outreach and education programs with other stakeholders, such as local farmers. Also, through CAPS, a pest survey specialist promotes activities and provides venues to encourage the exchange of information regarding invasive species detection and prevention. Other duties may include serving as a contact for public inquiries regarding a possible plant disease or an unfamiliar bug.

Farms, the government, and various organizations, are some of the places a pest survey specialist is employed in. Accuracy and attention to detail are crucial skills the pest surveyor must contain. Assisting in the prevention and removal of bugs, through alerting the public and collecting samples for technical support, are among the chief duties of a pest survey specialist.

Employment Outlook & Salary

Information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that pest control workers could see a employment increase as fast as the national average for 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). Pest control workers earned a mean annual salary of $37,950, as reported by the BLS in May 2018.

Those looking to become a pest survey specialist can expect to conduct tests of land and plants, and be exposed to insects. Though the job availability is expected to decline, the income is moderate.

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