I'm intrigued by your discussion of what it takes to be a herpetologist. I'd like to play a little game with you all if you're willing to play along. I'll give you some descriptions of folks I know and what they do. I will not mention their level of education. I'd like to know which ones you consider to be herpetologists and which ones you don't. Later, I'll post their level of education and see if your opinion changes. Here goes:
1. Studies the distribution of a particular salamander species in the local area. Has been published in a professional journal. Teaches, but not about herps.
2. State herpetologist, working for the DNR. Studies a variety of herp species.
3. Curator of reptiles at an AZA accredited zoo. Studies frogs in central america, local wild turtle populations, and herps kept at the zoo.
BTW, when I say "study" I am referring to scientific research.