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Archaeologist

Alternative titles for this job include

Archaeologists learn about the past by studying written records, collecting oral histories and excavating objects and remains at historical sites.

Average salary (a year)

£24,000 Starter

to

£40,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 42 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends flexibly

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Archaeologist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

University

Most professional archaeologists have a degree and many also have a postgraduate qualification.

You can do a degree in archaeology or a related subject, like:

  • environmental archaeology
  • human evolution
  • archaeological science
  • ancient history
  • conservation and cultural heritage

You can search for higher education archaeology courses on British Archaeological Jobs and Resources.

After completing a first degree, you could take a postgraduate course and specialise in a particular field. 

Examples include:

  • osteoarchaeology - studying human remains
  • marine archaeology - investigating coastal and underwater sites
  • digital archaeology - creating visualisations of ruins and finds

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

Apprenticeship

You could apply to do an Archaeological Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship, with an archaeological consultancy, university department or heritage organisation. This could lead to a position like archaeological site assistant or finds technician.

With further training, you could become a professional archaeologist.

You could also complete an Archaeological Specialist Level 7 Postgraduate Degree Apprenticeship.

The degree apprenticeship typically takes 3 years to complete and combines learning on-the-job with university study.

Employers will assess your skills, experience and qualifications when you apply, and usually require a relevant first degree.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More Information

Volunteering

Competition for courses and jobs is very strong. It's essential that you get practical experience.

Local and regional archaeological associations run volunteer fieldwork programmes for all age groups.

These offer you the chance to get hands-on experience, doing tasks like:

  • site surveys
  • excavations
  • recording finds

You can find volunteering opportunities through the Council for British Archaeology.

More Information

Career tips

There are a lot of different specialisms in archaeology and skills you have from another career can be useful, for example:

  • computer-aided design (CAD)
  • illustration
  • photography
  • geographical information systems (GIS)

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists for professional development training and networking opportunities.

Further information

You'll find more details about how to become an archaeologist from the:

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of sociology and anthropology for understanding society and culture
  • persistence and determination
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent written communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As an archaeologist, you could:

  • survey sites using ground and aerial photography, and laser scanning
  • collect and analyse data to build up a picture of a site
  • plan and manage excavations and archival research
  • identify and record finds
  • clean, date and preserve artefacts in the lab
  • create 2D and 3D images to show how sites, people and artefacts might have looked
  • help to organise community projects, events and talks
  • supervise students, volunteers and staff on site

Working environment

You could work in an office, at a university, in a museum or visit sites.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you may spend nights away from home.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could:

  • progress to a senior role like project supervisor or site director
  • specialise in a particular type of archaeology or historical period
  • teach on university courses and carry out research
  • advise local authorities and construction firms about the archaeological impact of new developments.

You can also register for Chartered Institute for Archaeologists Member status, which leads to professional recognition of your skills and expertise.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Project Archaeologist

  • Wage: £17,250 a year Annually
  • Location: Malton

Courses In England

History and Archaeology Access to Higher Education Diploma 3

  • Provider: The Manchester College
  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: Manchester

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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