Paleontology is a crowd-pleasing science by nature; it’s intriguing, bizarre, and draws you in as a kid. To become involved in paleontology, you don’t need to discover a dinosaur in your backyard. If you want to make a career out of paleontology, check out some of the tips below. These tips will help you get your feet wet and build your CV so you can start sending out applications when the time comes… and they’re a lot of fun!
- Volunteer At Local Museum or Lab
Volunteers do a lot of paleontological tasks, including sorting, cleaning, finding, and even classifying fossils. If you live in a college town, your school will likely have a museum or a Geology/Earth Science department. Volunteers are welcome at many natural history museums. Check out the membership options at a museum or see if they offer a volunteer program. This may be a fantastic opportunity to network and acquire important resume experience if you’re interested in paleontology as a profession.
- Participate in Digs
Fieldwork experience may make a big impact on college or scholarship applications, and it’s the greatest part of paleontology, in my view. The sense of mystery is a big part of what draws people to science, and fieldwork is a great way to tap into it. In places like Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Utah, and Colorado, there are a variety of chances to go outdoors and dig for fossils, such as Passport in Time (PIT) programs run by the USFS or private digs run by museums. We also encourage participation in paleontology-themed scientific summer camps, such as the Paleontology Research Team camp at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).
- Read, Read, and Read
If you’re serious about paleontology, you’ll want to get your hands on some books (or audiobooks). As a scientist, it is your duty to be well-versed in your area. Vertebrate Paleontology by Michael Benton, Ever Since Darwin by Stephen Jay Gould, The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert Bakker, Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, and, of course, On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin are among the books we would suggest. Try Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and Raptor Red by Robert Bakker for entertaining fiction that might also be somewhat educational.
- Participate in Science Contests
Scientific fairs are fantastic places to put your science skills to the test and design your own experiment. Local school districts usually host scientific fairs, but there are also bigger science competitions, such as Google’s online Science Fair. Such fairs are a great learning experience that can inspire you to keep putting your work out there.
- Study Up On Science and Math
If you want to work in paleontology, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a related subject, such as geology or biology. These degrees require the completion of a variety of scientific and math courses. Please don’t be discouraged by this! Many students allow themselves to be intimidated by STEM courses, but this is unnecessary. Allow plenty of time to study difficult topics, and don’t be hesitant to seek clarification or assistance. Geography, GIS, computer programming, anthropology, anatomy and physiology, and statistics are some of the other subjects that might be helpful in paleontology.