Career in Paleontology

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Paleontology

The discipline of Paleontology concerns the scientific study of fossils and remains of organisms that existed thousands of years ago. It involves not only an extensive investigation into such remains but also inquiries into the climates, the chemical composition of the soil, ancient pollen, and past extinctions as well. While a research career is still the primary choice among upcoming individuals, there has been significant growth in the industries of journalism, film and documentation, museology, etc. In this blog, we will give a rundown of some of the top careers in paleontology that you must explore!

Quick Read: Taxonomy

credits : National Geographic

What is Paleontology

Paleontology is the study of what fossils can tell us about previous ecologies, evolution, and our role in the world as people. Paleontology combines information from biology, geology, ecology, anthropology, archaeology, and even computer science to better comprehend the processes that have led to the genesis and eventual extinction of many animals since life first emerged.

Subdisciplines of Paleontology

Paleontology has typically been separated into many subfields:

  • Micropaleontology: The study of microscopic fossils, regardless of which category they belong to.
  • Paleobotany: The study of fossil plants, which generally includes ancient algae and fungus as well as terrestrial plants.
  • Palynology: Pollen and spores generated by terrestrial plants and protists, both living and fossil.
  • Invertebrate Paleontology: Mollusks, echinoderms, and other invertebrate animal fossils are studied.
  • Vertebrate Paleontology: Vertebrate fossils, from early fishes to mammals, are studied.
  • Human Paleontology (Paleoanthropology): Prehistoric human and proto-human fossils are studied.
  • Taphonomy: In general, the study of decay, preservation, and the production of fossils.
  • Ichnology: Fossil tracks, trails, and footprints are studied.
  • Paleoecology: The study of past ecology and climate, as revealed by fossils and other means.

How To Become A Palaeontologist?

If you’re still in school and want to discover a new dinosaur species, the first step you should do is to concentrate on maths and scientific topics.

  • Obtain admission to a reputable science-oriented college. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in any pure science topic. You have the option of studying biology, geology, or both.
  • A double major or double degree is the greatest option, or you can concentrate on one topic as your major while taking the others as well.
  • Take at least one year of physics, chemistry, and math as part of your bachelor’s degree program.
  • Enroll in a paleontology MSc program. If you decide to study abroad, you may have a better chance of discovering graduate programs with more possibilities.
  • Continue your research and studies by getting a Paleontology PhD, which is a must. Choose a school where the teachers and curriculum are regarded as the best in the world.

Paleontology Courses & Universities

Before moving forward, here are a few major studies abroad destinations and universities across the globe which offer courses in paleontology:

University Location Times Higher Education Ranking 2021 Paleontology 
[Palaeontology] Courses
University of Chicago USA 10th PhD in Vertebrate Palaeontology
University of Toronto Canada 18th Bachelor of Science-Palaeontology
University of
Edinburgh
UK 30th MS Research-Palaeontology
& Geobiology
University of
Manchester
UK 51st MSc Research-Paleontology
MPhil Palaeontology
PhD Palaeontology
University of Bristol UK 91st BSc Palaeontology & Evolution
[Hons]MSc Palaeontology & Evolution
[Hons]
The University of
Adelaide
Australia 118th BSc Palaeontology
BSc Palaeontology [Adv]

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Paleontology Career Options

Owing to the research-oriented nature of the field of paleontology, career paths revolve around the field of academics. However, with interest in archaeology and paleontology growing, an increasing number of individuals are showing interest to venture into the discipline. In addition to that, activities of digitization, museology, preservation efforts of sites also need qualified professionals with a solid understanding of paleontology.

Professor/Lecturer

One of the most common career paths for budding paleontologists, as a professor or lecturer at universities, you will engage in imparting knowledge to students at bachelor’s, master’s, or higher levels. Alongside teaching responsibilities, many professors also carry out research activities, paper publishing and collaborate with other researchers domestically as well as abroad. 

Museum Curator/Manager

If you wish to give shape to your fascination for museums, a degree in paleontology sets you up quite nicely. As a museum curator, you will be in charge of proper preservation, management, and show-casing of displayed items which may range from prehistoric periods to even present-day excavations. Furthermore, as museums are increasingly shifting towards digitization, carrying out conversion tasks may also be required. Senior-level officials can expect to work in administrative and public policy positions as well.

Paleontologist

Naturally the most favored career option, a paleontologist works on the collection, analysis, and interpretation of samples. They work on different work sites ranging from forests and caves to ice-capped mountains to deserts. Also, they ensure the collected specimens are efficiently preserved for further study. Research areas include invertebrate paleontology, plant fossils, fish, prehistoric living organisms, ecology, and climate. Actual job tasks combine both lab and fieldwork with many tasks involving collaboration with forensic experts, geologists, botanists, etc.

Science Journalist/Illustrator

In the media industry as well, paleontologists are making headway with the recognition of science reporting, writing, photography, etc. As a science journalist with a paleontology background, you can expect to work at popular magazines, media companies, and documentary-making firms, the most prominent of which include National Geographic and Nature, among others. Similarly, if you have an interest in painting, you can take up illustrating or cartoon-making as a profession at news and publishing organizations. 

Other Career Options

Here are a few more specific options:

  • Ichnologists: They conduct an in-depth study of trace fossils or research into impressions left by any biological behavior in rocks, tracks, etc. 
  • Micropaleontologists: They study microscopic analysis of fossils during oil and gas excavation process, mining, water pipelines, etc
  • Paleoclimatology: They study the history of the ocean and climate-related changes including biogeochemical cycles.
  • Human Paleontologist: They conduct the history of humans on earth specifically their origins, growth, and pre-human forms.
  • Paleoecologists: They focus on the study of the history of ecological systems on earth, particularly, microfossils, air-trapped chemicals, etc. 

Paleontology is a growing field with innumerable career options and a higher degree from renowned gears you up for profession at universities, research organizations, etc. If you wish to enter this field, take assistance from Leverage Edu’s team of mentors in a free 30 minutes career counseling session at 1800 57 2000 and make an informed decision towards a rewarding career.

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