The huge fossils that you see at museums and natural history exhibitions are the result of work performed by palaeontologists. These professionals research prehistoric life forms, and work to uncover and unearth fossils belonging to extinct species such as dinosaurs. However, palaeontologists also research and identify new energy sources for fossil fuels, including coal and oil. Palaeontologists also teach at universities, conduct research and work for government agencies.
National Average Salaries
Palaeontologist duties vary depending on employer and industry. However, most palaeontologists are tasked with studying, uncovering and classifying the fossilised remains of plants and animals. Palaeontologists prepare reports on their findings, which are used for scientific or commercial purposes. For example, some palaeontologists write discourses on the potential location of petroleum resources. As of June 2011, SchoolsintheUSA.com listed an average salary range between £23,777 and £86,651 for palaeontologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that geoscientists, including palaeontologists, earned an average salary of £60,697 as of May 2010.
Before becoming full-time palaeontologists, bachelor and master degree students can intern or obtain entry-level positions as palaeontology technicians. Typical responsibilities include developing maps and guides for natural trails; organising and setting up instruments and equipment; preparing and updating field data in databases; and collecting and classifying specimens. Technicians also work with computer technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS) and spreadsheet software. A palaeontology technician job posted by the Geological Society of America listed a total wage of £1,787 for a 12-week assignment. In addition to a stipend, workers also received free housing on the job. Palaeontologists who wish to progress beyond technician or entry-level positions must obtain a master or doctoral degree in palaeontology, geology or an earth science to progress in the field.
According to a June 2011 SalaryExpert report, palaeontologists earned varying salaries across different geographic regions. For example, palaeontologists working in Chicago reported an average salary of £38,844. Palaeontologists working in Manhattan's New York City borough averaged £39,026 yearly. In Phoenix, palaeontologists reported average annual earnings of £37,945 per year. Palaeontologists working in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Charlotte averaged £33,067, £44,547 and £35,983 respectively. Workers in Dallas and Houston reported the highest salaries, averaging £62,262 and £78,213 per year. Average salaries for palaeontology technicians also ranged in major metropolitan areas. For instance, SalaryExpert revealed that palaeontology technicians earned £26,125 in New York City, £23,166 in Dallas and £36,636 in Charlotte.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition" stated that jobs for geoscientists and hydrologists, which include paaeontologists, will increase 18 per cent between 2008 and 2018. Job growth will be driven by environmental legislation and protections around land management, and energy and water use. The BLS forecasts that palaeontologists with foreign language skills will be best positioned for taking advantage of opportunities in energy exploration and development in developing countries. Moreover, palaeontologists with a master's degree in geosciences and an interest in the energy sectors will have the best promotional opportunities.