Taxonomy is the study and classification of living things. The field is extremely important for the preservation of the diversity of plants and animals in the environment. Taxonomists are scientists who are trained experts in the field. Some taxonomists are experts on particular species, genera and families. Taxonomists will often collaborate with other animal and plant specialists to fully describe and classify an organism’s place within the environment.
Taxonomists study the relationships between plants and animals and then categorize the organisms into species and higher categories. Taxonomists may describe new species and may study known species to determine the connection between new and known groups. They determine appropriate names for species and other units of classification and they present their research to the scientific community at large. When existing print resources for plant and animal classification are inadequate to classify a particular species, taxonomists are called upon to research and determine the species' classification.
There are several areas of classification a taxonomist can focus on, but the major two categories are plant taxonomy and animal taxonomy. An animal taxonomist makes more than a plant taxonomist according to a survey conducted by Salary Expert. An animal taxonomist makes an average annual salary of $48,465 in the 10 major cities surveyed. In the same cities surveyed, the average annual salary for a plant taxonomist is $40,660.
The location of a taxonomist can have a major effect on the salary he can earn. According to Salary Expert, the top two cities for an animal taxonomist of the 10 surveyed were Dallas, and Houston, both in Texas, with average salaries of $57,840 and $55,344 per year, respectively, as of March 28, 2011. The bottom two cities surveyed were Boston, Massachusetts, and Orlando, Florida, with salaries of $37,265 and $38,431 respectively. For a plantl taxonomist, the top two cities surveyed were also Dallas, and Houston, with salaries of $48,526 and $46,431 respectively. The lowest two cities were also Boston and Orlando, with $31,264 and $32,242 respectively.
The income for a taxonomist does not compare favorably with other scientists in the life sciences field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for life scientists was $63,970 per year as of May 2009. The middle 50 percent for the industry was between $48,180 and $90,160. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $38,680 and the top 10 percent earned upwards of $123,220.