The study of fossils may not seem as essential as some other sciences, such as biology and chemistry, just for example, which contribute to modern medicine, but in truth it is extremely important to understand where we came from and how the history of life on our planet progressed if we are to plan for future survival. Even if you’re not that concerned with tracking past life forms, you might be more interested in the exploration of fossil fuels, which are, as the name implies, derived from fossils. In any case, there’s more to the field of paleontology than you might imagine, and a degree can yield several exciting, challenging, and rewarding career paths. Here are just a few options that may have you changing your major to paleontology.
Since many fuel sources are dependent upon fossils for their formation, certain businesses in the private sector, namely oil companies, are keen to put paleontologists on the payroll. They need the expertise of qualified professionals to help them discover areas that are likely to produce deposits of the fossil fuels they seek. And if you’re interested in helping to ensure that current methods of transportation, home heating, and the like are available to the masses, you might do well in such a position. Of course, with alternatives springing up and people starting to worry about global warming and other issues that have resulted from the byproducts of burning fossil fuels, there are fewer of these jobs available than there once were, and fewer professionals willing to take them. But it’s just one option of many when you earn the proper credentials to become a paleontologist.
Of course, you might go the other way by taking on a career that puts the future of our environment first. Many paleontologists are hard at work using fossils to try to reconstruct the progression and outcome of past instances of climate change in order to extrapolate what the human race can expect if we continue to speed global warming. These scientists may work at colleges and universities, teaching students even as they conduct their research, they might take jobs with independently-funded laboratories, or they could seek grants in order to run their own research projects. But their goal to create a better future by exploring the once-living remnants of the past is one that cannot be overestimated in importance to our planet and the human race.
Paleontologists may also choose to work in museums, cataloging, curating, or researching collections of fossils; they could work for the government, conducting geological surveys or participating in other types of projects; or they might work in fields like soil conservation, environmental geology, or even on digs involving dinosaur bones (perhaps what they are most associated with by the general populace). As you can see, there is no shortage of job opportunities available to those who earn a degree in paleontology, so if you think your only options are to contribute to museum collections or sites like arrowheads.com, you should know that there are far more careers in paleontology than you may have suspected. And while you might not earn a ton of money as a paleontologist, you certainly have a shot at an exciting and fulfilling career when you opt to enter the field of paleontology.