Job type


£20k - £60k

Typical salary

39 – 41

Hours per week

Palaeontologists study the fossils of plants and animals.

More info

  • Find, study and share information about fossilised plants and animals
  • Opportunities to travel to unusual locations and combine on-site work with lab-based research and writing
  • Opportunities to specialise in a particular area, work in the oil and gas industry or become a university lecturer

As a palaeontologist, you'll usually specialise in a particular area of palaeontology, like invertebrate palaeontology (animals without backbones like insects), vertebrate palaeontology (animals with backbones such as dinosaurs, birds and fish), palaeobotany (plant, flower and seed fossils), or micropalaeontology (microfossils like plankton or pollen).

As a research palaeontologist, you'll research into subjects like the causes of mass extinction. In a museum, you'll look after dinosaur and reptile fossil collections and displays.


  • Collect data and samples on field trips
  • Manage volunteers on field trips
  • Examine and test samples in the lab
  • 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


You could work in a university, a museum, in the oil and gas industry or for a scientific magazine or TV production company. Your working environment may be physically demanding and involving frequent travel.

You'll need

For this role, you'll need knowledge of geography, maths, physics, and chemistry, excellent verbal and written communication skills, analytical thinking skills, the ability to use a computer confidently, and science skills.

You could do a degree in botany, Earth sciences, geology, palaeontology, or zoology. Some employers, like museums or oil and gas companies, might ask for a postgraduate qualification like an 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.

Being able to speak a second language might be helpful as you'll often be working with colleagues from around the world.


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.