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Helping you find a career as an Archaeologist

An archaeologist examines historical sites and objects to learn about the beliefs, cultures and lives of past generations. Furthermore, they record and preserve archaeological remains for future generations.

Note: there are less runaway boulders than you may have been led to expect.


What does an Archaeologist do?
An archaeologist will:
  • Discover and survey sites for excavations

  • Work on excavation project including the management of teams of diggers

  • Record findings using drawings, notes, and photography

  • Use computer programmes to interpret sites, data and landscapes

  • Conduct lab tests on sites and findings

  • Ensure sites and other buildings are protected and preserved

  • Generate publicity materials for articles about research
What skills and interests should an Archaeologist have?
An archaeologist will need:
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

  • Flexibility and willingness to cooperate with programmes

  • A methodical and detail-oriented work ethic

  • An enquiring mind, with a keen interest in history

  • Manual dexterity with tools and instruments

  • Patience and dedication
What hours does an Archaeologist typically do?
You will work an average of 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may need to work during evenings and weekends if the time frame on a dig is tight.
What environment is an Archaeologist based in?
An archaeologist may be based at dig sites, surveying and carrying out excavations, or in a museum/heritage centre, universities or laboratories.
How much does an Archaeologist travel?
An archaeologist will be required to travel to between dig sites, museums, universities etc. Dig sites may be located all around the country or internationally; travelling is part of the job.
How much does an Archaeologist get paid?
Starting salaries range from £19,850 to £20,926 per annum. With experience, you can expect a salary of up to £31,560, while senior level archaeologists can earn up to £40,000.
Perks & benefits
Opportunities for promotion within the sector are various. Diggers may move on to become site supervisors and later project managers. However, competition for such posts can be fierce. You may also find career opportunities in conservation projects, heritage management, curation and archaeological sciences.
What qualifications does an Archaeologist need?
Certain degrees will be appropriate to begin your career (see below), however, a degree is not necessary to enter the profession. You can take an NVQ in archaeological practice if you are already working in a paid or voluntary archaeological role.
Useful subjects to study at school & university
Degrees in subjects such as archaeology, ancient history, anthropology, conservation or heritage management are all appropriate. Qualifications in computing may also be desirable.
Further reading
As the sector is small and competition for jobs is strong, practical experience will be hugely beneficial to your application. Volunteering on archaeological digs can be a good way to gain experience, with opportunities frequently advertised at the Council for British Archaeology (CBA).
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