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How Employable Will I Be If I Go Back To School And Persue A Degree In Earth Science/geology/paleontology?


claire01

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I'm not sure if this is the place for this question, but I have decided to go back to school and finish getting my degree decades after receiving an Associates in Arts and Sciences. My heart says to study something I know I will enjoy learning, but my head says that may not be the most practical choice. Is this a field that A person could compete in without an advanced degree of some sort? What jobs would I be qualified for? How much competition is there in this field? I will be working full time while going to school. Any thoughts, suggestions or advice will be very much appreciated.

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What does practical mean to you? Do you have a family, home, etc. that you need to support? Are you willing to go where the work is?

I am not a geologist or paleontologist but from what I gather the jobs in pure paleo are few and far between. There are probably much more practical areas of earth science such as hydrology or imaging or maybe conservation that offer real jobs. And of course there is oil and gas.

A number of years back I was contemplating the same thing. In my case I was hoping to teach. Sad to say but at this point in my life the numbers just do not make sense. I have a daughter on the verge of going to college and a home to pay for and maintain. Hopefully you will be in a better place to make the decision.

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Claire, I did exactly what you are doing. I did my first two years of undergraduate at the University of Arizona in 1968-1970. I did a couple part time years in the late 70's at Temple Univeristy, but didn't manage to cobble together enough credits for a degree. At that point, everything had been in Anthropology. Over the years I switched to paleontology, and eventually, in 2000, returned to the U of Arizona while I was working at the Museum I'm now the Director of, and finished my BA in Athropology and Geochronology in 2004.

A lot depends on exactly where you'd like to end up working. To do research, you'll probably want to get a Masters, but to work in a museum, perhaps in collections management, or in education, there are jobs available to the holder of a BA or BS. Meet, and talk to, people who are doing what it is you think you want to do.

What in Earth Science/Geology/Paleontology are you interested in doing? What would your dream job be, and what other jobs could you be happy doing? You may not even have those answers now - but take the opportunities which open up to you as you go back to school to find out. Vounteer and a museum. Go to professional meetings to see what piques your interest.

Rich

The plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence".

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Thanks for the responses, I have a lot to consider. Yes, I have obligations and others to consider when making this decision, and am finding it difficult. I realize this Q and A is for fossil related questions, but I thought: who would know better than this group of people! Thank you both for your input.

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Since you're already in Texas, I would recommend starting with a few earth sciences courses while you take the time to figure out your ultimate goal. An earth sciences degree would be extremely helpful in getting you a good oil job, which earns some darn fine money, and if you really enjoy the earth sciences courses, then that knowledge and a nice oil income can help you explore paleontology as a very serious side interest.

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This is quite to the point of this Forum, Claire. One of the most valuable things we can do is to encourage people to get more education - whether for a degree and a profession, or for their own knowledge and a hobby. Many years ago, when MSN still had their Chat Rooms, there was one called Evolution Vs. Creation. It was a vibrant community which lasted for a decade. We encouraged and helped at least 20 different people over the years to continue their education. Some were as young as 13 when they came to us (and several now have PhDs) and others were much older.

We should always make room and time on this Forum for questions such as yours.

Rich

The plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence".

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Thank you, Rich. I was worried about posting/posing this question here, but felt like I was at a crossroads, and needed some good advice. Have not been disappointed. Thank you. Sincerely.

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Well said Rich!

"They ... savoured the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant of ordinary things."

-- Terry Pratchett

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Fantastic idea. Keep this in mind. It's "arts" and sciences. Good, well-trained fossil preppers are probably in higher demand than paleontologists. I did my undergrad study in medical illustration and finished grad school at an art college. I now make a major portion of my living by preparing fossils. A good opportunity to "earn while you learn" also. Best of luck!

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I know professors of Geology at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls (fairly close to you), Hardin-Simmons in Abilene, UT Austin, and Texas A & M. They are all very actively recruiting students from all walks of life. I come from a liberal arts background as well, but now teach 6th grade science. I just finished presenting the fourth day of a four day professional development workshop on Deep Time, Index Fossils and Paleobiology to K-12 teachers--my co-presenters all had advanced degrees. I always learn from the folks that have an alphabet behind their names. I like to think they occasionally learn from me. If you would like for me to put you in touch with some folks, pm me.

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Wow, thank you all so much for taking the time to respond. I'm making progress, got my confirmation email from FASFA saying I should be eligible for a grant and student loans. I've never been so excited about getting into debt! Still figuring things out, but everyone's great advice and support makes this all seem a little less scary.

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