Paleontologists study a variety of fossilized remains to learn about past organisms and environments of the earth at different geologic periods. There are several broad categories of paleontologists, depending on what kind of fossils they study. Those who study fossils of animals with backbones are called vertebrate paleontologists. Paleontologists who study of fossils of animals without backbones are known as Invertebrate Paleontologists. They are more likely to engage in field work, digs and putting together remains of dead organisms. Micropaleontologists study microfossils. Microfossils are tiny fossils, either plants or animals, which can be seen only with a microscope. Micropaleontologists are more likely to spend their time in laboratories, using microscopes and other mechanical tools to study microscopic fossil organisms. Yet another group research on fossil plants referred as Paleobotanists. They study larger fossil plants – wood, leaves, flowers, and seeds. Palynologists study pollen and spores (living and fossil). Other area of paleontologists include Paleoecologists who study ancient ecosystems and how they develop. Biostratigraphyist study the vertical distribution of fossils in rocks. Paleoanthropologist study prehistoric humans.
If you are have a real interest in science and research especially investigation of past life, paleontology may be an ideal career choice for you. As there is only one institute that offer courses specific to Paleontology in India (Geological survey of India, Bandlaguda, Hyderabad), those with bachelor degree in geology or earth science can get into entry level jobs in this field. But, masters degree or Ph.D is required for better prospects in Paleontology. Careers that you may wish to pursue in paleontology range from curators or other museum personnel within the field, nature or environmental conservationists, geological surveyors within an industry such as mining or the petroleum industry, professional consultancy work or teaching.
Paleontology is a science related but broad field. Therefore a paleontologist needs to know physics, chemistry, biology, and geology. Most entry-level positions in paleontology require a master's degree in geology or earth science. A Ph.D. is necessary for research and college teaching positions. Knowledge of many languages is an added advantage to this field as the career requires lot of travel as well as indoor work.
M.Sc. Earth Science
Paleontologists are employed by both public and private sectors. Paleontologists usually work in colleges and universities, museums, or state and federal geological surveys. Many of them are employed as college and university professors. Paleontology professors may also do fieldwork and research in their area of expertise. A Ph.D. is required for academic palaeontologists. Museums hire paleontologists to locate and identify fossilized remains for exhibits and for additional research. In museums, they work as curators, researchers, collection managers etc. State and federal geological surveys commonly employ paleontologists to work as part of a team solving problems important to the state or nation. Paleontologists may perform a service for geologists or the public, by identifying fossils, giving programs or tours, consulting with industry, or even providing advice to visiting paleontologists. A few work for oil companies or in government as consultants helping to solve geological problems.