Examine ancient bones to discover the diseases that plagued past people.
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Quick Stats


Salary Range
$31,000 – $89,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Paleopathologists do?

Deep in distant jungles or nestled in the dunes of deserts, buried fossils tell the history of the human race. Once dug from the ground, they do so much more than just hang around in stuffy museums. A Paleopathologist uses these specimens to study the diseases that plagued ancient peoples, exposing important pieces of their lifestyles as well as helping us understand our own.

Starting at a dig site, your first order of business as a Paleopathologist is to discover new artifacts to bring back for the academic world to study. Archaeological sites are scattered all over the world, some of the most important in exotic locations, but more often than not, you can always find a place to dig close to home. Sometimes, accompanying animal remains, waste, and even pieces of art are uncovered, each adding a clue to the puzzle you work to unravel.

Back in the lab and armed with a microscope, and often the fancier technology of CAT scans and fiber optics, you examine bones — and if you’re lucky, tissue remains — to identify diseases that a certain population might have suffered from. Studies of a family of Egyptian mummies might exhibit a congenital disease, exposing a doomed lineage of ancient kings. Even simple discoveries, such as the state of a caveman’s teeth, can show us what our predecessors ate and how often they brushed their teeth (which is, admittedly, not often).

As a Paleopathologist, your findings not only reveal how an ancient population might have lived, but also how long they lived and how they died. This census information is crucial for the scientific and medical community to know.

Will a long forgotten pandemic reemerge? And if so, did a past people know the secret on how to stop it? It’s your mission to find out.

Should I be a Paleopathologist?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.

  • How to become a Paleopathologist

    Most Paleopathologists have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaas9l&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2816%25%29|master%27s+%2853%25%29|doctorate+%2832%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,53
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