A paleontologist is a scientist who studies animal and plant fossils throughout the world to learn what ancient life was like. It can be an interesting hobby or a fascinating, lucrative career. Whatever extent you would like to pursue, let's look at how to become a paleontologist.
- Skill level:
Decide if you have the temperament to become a paleontologist. It requires an analytical mind, scientific curiosity and patience for note taking. You'll also need to travel from site to site for excavations and research.
Begin in high school. Take as many science and math courses as possible. Pay attention in biology class. Foreign languages will also be helpful.
Plan to go to a university that offers a degree in Earth Sciences. Not many offer a degree in Paleontology. Most paleontologists have their degree in Zoology or Geology.
Study to get excellent grades in physics, biology, chemistry, math, geology, computer courses and foreign languages. You'll need writing courses to prepare for note taking in research. This is important in high school as well as college.
Know that if you want to conduct or run a research program, write research papers for publication, become a museum curator or teach paleontology at a college or university, you'll need a Master's degree or a Ph.D.
Assist a paleontologist by preparing fossils or collecting fossils. With an undergraduate degree (3 to 4 years in most universities), this could become your full-time career as a paleontologist.
Read as many books on ancient life as you possibly can. If you are in college, ask if there is a paleontologist on faculty. If so, ask if he or she has a research program you could work on.