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Palaeontologist

Alternative titles for this job include

Palaeontologists study the history of life on Earth through fossils.

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 Starter

to

£60,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

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How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a palaeontologist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You could do a degree in:

  • botany
  • Earth sciences
  • geology
  • palaeontology
  • zoology

Some employers, like museums or oil and gas companies, may ask for a postgraduate qualification like a MGeol, MBiol or MSci.

Other employers, like universities or research institutions, will expect you to have completed, or be working towards, a PhD in your specialist area of interest.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including a science, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

More Information

Career tips

You may find it helpful if you can speak a second language because you'll often be working with colleagues from around the world.

Further information

You'll find more on palaeontology training through The Palaeontological Association.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of geography
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • science skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • knowledge of physics
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your tasks will depend on the sector you work in.

Typically you could expect to:

  • collect data and samples on field trips
  • manage volunteers on dig sites
  • examine and test samples in the lab using simple tools and technology like CT scans
  • do research and publish your findings
  • plan and deliver lectures
  • develop courses and workshops
  • record and classify samples and collections
  • give talks and manage displays and exhibitions
  • write articles for scientific websites and magazines
  • provide expert advice for broadcasters on programmes

Working environment

You could work in a laboratory, in a museum, at a university, visit sites or in an office.

Your working environment may be physically demanding and you may spend nights away from home.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could work as a geological surveyor, a consultant in mining and mineral exploration, or the oil and gas industry. 

You could move into university teaching and research.

The skills you gain are also valued in the scientific media, TV and the financial sector.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a palaeontologist right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Access to HE: Science

  • Provider: SUFFOLK NEW COLLEGE
  • Start date: 13 September 2021
  • Location: Ipswich

Access to HE: Science

  • Provider: ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL
  • Start date: 17 January 2022
  • Location:

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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