Academic research (PhD)
For a career in academia, you need to obtain a postgraduate (PhD) degree. In Germany, PhD positions take 3-4 years and are commonly funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (for students of any nationality) or DAAD for German applicants going abroad or foreign applicants looking for a PhD position in Germany. Most of our graduates continue their research in PhD programs around the world. Our alumni have been admitted to PhD programs in the USA, UK, Poland, Netherlands … and in Germany.
FAU taught me the data management and computer programming skills I needed to get my current position and continue to thrive in academia. George William Harrison, former student
Postdoctoral (i.e. post-PhD) opportunities are offered through grants from these institutions, as well as the Humboldt Foundation and many smaller funding bodies.
Paleobiologists regularly work with lots of data, statistical analyses, and databases, making data science an ideal next step for many graduates. Several of our alumni have gone on to work in data science in both Germany and abroad, and now work in a variety of different areas from Geomarketing to Decision Science and Economics.
I had loads of fun with great people during my time at FAU! The course gave me insight into a wide range of paleo research areas and enabled me to shape projects around the things I am passionate about. This experience made me a more confident, independent researcher. For me, the coding and data skills I developed are invaluable as they enabled me to enter a career in Data Science after my degree. Erlangen is a lovely bike friendly town which makes it really easy to get around and enjoy what’s going on. Also make sure to check out the Language centre and take the opportunity to learn a new language alongside your degree!
Paleobiology and museums go hand in hand, so this course is a perfect step towards a career based in natural history museums. Areas of focus include:
- Specimen curation, preparation and conservation
- Research support (e.g. laboratory technician)
- Imaging and digitisation
- Education (e.g. events coordination, education policy, etc.)
- Public engagement and outreach
- Social media and promotion
Communicating science to the public is an essential part of the scientific process - and fossil are always a hot topic! Because of this, many paleobiologists choose to pursue careers as science writers, journalists, researchers in the TV and film industry, videographers, and even podcasters.
Geotechnical engineering & field surveying
Many paleobiology graduates who have a background in Geosciences or Earth Sciences go on to work for geotechnical companies, where their primary duties involve conducting geological surveys to create reports for construction and engineering firms. Graduates have also been successful securing careers with environmental organisations, where they conduct field surveys (e.g. soil analysis, vegetation monitoring, etc.) and analyse data to create reports for businesses, local councils, and governments.
Careers in scientific publishing are a popular destination for many paleobiology graduates. This not only includes working in editorial and commissioning roles for scientific journals, but also working in publishing companies that produce science books for primary and secondary schools.
Other varied career options for graduates include work in areas such as:
- Scientific illustration and graphic design
- Nature conservation
- Geoparks and nature reserves
- Charities and societies
- Popular science book writing
- Startup companies
Read more about the experience of others!
What does the job of a paleobiologist look like?
You can read interviews with widely defined paleobiologists on the following pages:
- Palaeontological Association
- “Meet the Scientist” series of Time Scavengers
- A Day in the GeoLife Series
- Society of Vertebrate Paleontology