discussion / Acoustics  / 9 June 2022

Careers in Bioacoustics

I'm a PhD student studying whale acoustics and am beginning to plan for the next step of my career after graduating. As a student I've met a lot of people who went on to academic jobs, and many others from my lab found contract work with NOAA, but I'm wondering what else is out there in the world of acoustic ecology and bioacoustics. I'd love to hear from you all about your careers or careers you've heard of. Some specific questions I have are:

1) What does your day-to-day job look like? How much of your time is spent on various tasks (field work, data analysis, grant writing, networking, etc.)?

2) What is your work environment like? Is it highly collaborative or more individual work? Is it remote or in-person? 

3) If you're comfortable talking about this, what are the pay/salary and benefits like? How reliable is your income (e.g. soft-money that could be lost at any moment vs a guaranteed salary)?

4) How's the work-life balance? Are you on-call all the time or can you turn off notifications in the evening? Can you work from home if your kids are sick?

5) What do you feel the pros and cons are of your job? What do you wish you had known about it before you started?

Hopefully this can spark a conversation that others will find useful, too. Thank you!

Hi Eric, 

Dropping in a reply we had over on Linkedin here. Annoyingly I can't do a snazzy embed of the comment - will fix that!

Anton Baotic shared: 

I guess it depends on whether you want to stay in academia or go into industry. Overtime working hours are preprogrammed in academia without appropriate compensation. Austrian funding agencies pay a reasonable wage. I believe it could be improved.
I've always enjoyed working with exotic animals like elephants, giraffes, and giant pandas, as well as the collaborative and international work. This experience shaped me into the person I am today, and I don't want to missany of it. Personally, I believe that bioacoustics has not received the respect that it deserves, including the bioacousticians who put their lives into their projects. I am convinced that bioacoustics can be a valuable tool in conservation. Throughout my career, non-academics and the tech industry have approached me numerous times about using bioacoustics as a conservation monitoring tool. And I frequently feel stepped on when asked to provide material without appreciating the work behind the data, especially when it comes from economically-driven institutes that are unwilling to compensate. The fact is that the best conservation Technology is meaningless without solid basic data.
In retrospective, a more tech-oriented educational background would have been good!