Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Paleontologist

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. 

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Paleontologist

Overview: A paleontologist is someone who looks for fossils that may be (dinosaur bones, eggs, egg fragments, fossilized wood, excrement, leaves, footprints, and various other vertebrate and invertebrates). The work is slow and taxing, involving countless hours of sifting through layers of dirt and rock to uncover fossils to determine their age, and whether they originated from land or sea.

Paleontologists travel to interesting locations (living simply while doing so) and may also work onsite with archeologists (who study ancient civilizations) by analyzing animal remains found in these areas. This will help archeologists understand the diet of that time period. Others may teach, write and publish papers, run educational programs, organize collections and maintain exhibits, work in museums, or do research for private companies. The hours can be long, and the pay is not always a lot, but the work is rewarding for those who love uncovering the mysteries of the past and getting the chance to prove one’s theories and possibly make a new discovery.

Necessary Training: A person can practice paleontology without a degree, but to gain employment, a degree in geology with courses in paleontology, a master’s degree, or a doctorate in paleontology is likely needed. Not many universities offer degree programs in paleontology, so if education is a component of your story, make sure to research schools in the real world.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, basic first aid, carpentry, exceptional memory, fishing, foraging, gaining the trust of others, photographic memory, predicting the weather, promotion, sculpting, strategic thinking, wilderness navigation, writing

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, ambitious, analytical, cautious, cooperative, curious, diplomatic, disciplined, efficient, focused, independent, intelligent, meticulous, nature-focused, objective, observant, optimistic, organized, passionate, patient, persistent, resourceful, responsible, simple, studious

NEGATIVE: fussy, nosy, obsessive, perfectionist, workaholic

Sources of Friction: Losing your funding for a dig, the stress of not producing results (that will ensure continued funding), inclement weather, theft at a dig site, loneliness, working with others if there are personality conflicts, illnesses contracted while in an exotic location (malaria, parasites, etc), suffering an injury and being far from adequate medical help, accidentally damaging a find, relationship struggles resulting from being away for long periods of time

People They Might Interact With: archeologists, students, interns, laborers, drivers, university staff, editors, researchers, locals (for obtaining resources, information, shelter, guiding, etc.)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Paleontologists that dream of making a new discovery or proving a theory might becomes discouraged because they are so focused on the end result and so not draw satisfaction from their career as they believed they would
  • Esteem and Recognition: Characters in this field may struggle if others are making interesting discoveries (and being acknowledged for them) while they are not, leading them to question their own abilities, lowering self-esteem
  • Love and Belonging: This career may create challenges for characters who are always away on digs rather than spending time with their significant other
  • Safety and Security: Funding can be a constant area of struggle, and make income less secure

Common Work-Related Settings: ancient ruins, arctic tundra, badlands, campsite, canyon, cave, country road, creek, desert, hiking trail, lake, mountains, old pick-up truck, quarry, teacher’s lounge, university quad, waterfall, workshop

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Paleontologist

  1. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-28-2019 | The Author Chronicles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.