Museum Research Assistant. Salary: $35,000 or less
You've just earned your master's degree, which got you hired at this Midwestern museum where you completed your internship and have now been promoted. You never thought you'd accept a salary this pitiful, but you get to assemble some pretty cool exhibits and rack up some research hours.
Assistant Professor. Salary: $50,000
After much blood, sweat, and tears, you've finally gotten your doctorate. Although the museum was fun, you want to get more involved in research work. You're now an assistant professor at a top-notch university with a generous research budget. Unfortunately, the department head puts you to sleep as often as he does his students, so you never remember what you're supposed to be working on.
Professor of Paleontology. Salary: $60,000
You've climbed to the top of the heap at your university. After the department's tenured professor retired, you took over the paleontology program, which means you've got grad assistants falling over each other to help you. You're lining yourself up for a nice year-long research gig. If only you didn't have to actually grade papers, this would be amazing.
Paleontological Personality. Salary: $80,000
You abandoned the academic world, absconding to join the Discovery Channel's exploration team. You get to work on some super-cool fossil digs, then tell viewers about the experience in words they can understand. Your shows have become wildly popular, which means you get to make more of them. Sweet.
Smithsonian Director of Paleontology. Salary: $95,000
As the head of the Smithsonian Museum's expansive paleontology collection, you literally run the show. You get to pick and choose the paleontology exhibits, dole out funding, and arrange your schedule so you can roll up your sleeves and dig in on whichever one most suits your fancy. It's good to be the king or queen—of the dinosaurs.