An Egyptologist is someone who studies the history and culture of Egypt. This person usually starts his or her training for a career by developing a keen interest in Egypt and its history; he or she will need to first complete a high school education, then earn higher education degrees from a college or university specializing in such studies. Many people who study Egyptology go on to earn PhD credentials so they can secure employment within the field. It is likely that the person will do a significant amount of research or hands-on studies in Egypt as well.
Sometimes an Egyptologist will be considered a philologist, or someone who studies the nature and language of historical documents and resources, though in other cases, the person may be considered a type of archaeologist. The category a researcher will fall into often depends on the type of research he or she is conducting in relation to the history of Egypt. Egyptologists will study various sources to help determine the most accurate historical events and meaningful cultural developments, and they will often publish their findings for consumption within the academic world or a greater readership at large.
The study of Egyptology is not a new field; ancient Egyptian societies would have one or or many Egyptologists working under the rule of a king or other ruler. Egypt's history is a long one, so the study of that culture's past is also an old practice. Other cultures, such as the Greeks and Romans, also began studying Egypt throughout the course of centuries, and an Egyptologist historically did not necessarily need to be Egyptian to study Egyptology. Egyptologists are likely to have an extensive background in language theory and development, and not necessarily only in regards to the Egyptian language. Scientific studies also make up a good part of the curriculum one must complete during a college or university tenure.
Westerners are the relative newcomers to the field of Egyptology, though even Western academics have developed a significant past within the field. Perhaps the newest division of Egyptology is most likely to be derided by a true Egyptologist: pseudoegyptology is the study of theories that ancient Egyptian cultures may have derived from extraterrestrial origins. The theories within this sub-field are often lacking in basic scientific concepts, and not all the information used to develop theories are based on concrete or proven facts. It is not usually considered a valid form of Egyptology.