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How to become an Archaeologist

avg. starting salary

Digging for the perfect career? You should become an Archaeologist… Archaeologists explore ancient sites, discovering and examining old objects to learn about various eras in history. They may specialise in particular time periods, types of objects, or geographical areas. Although many Archaeologists spend a lot of their time taking part in excavations and analysing their findings, their work can also be based in a variety of other settings. These could range from local authorities and museums to universities or research organisations. Working hours will often vary dependent on the job or project an Archaeologist is working on, and temporary contract work is common. Specific duties will depend on your specialism, but an Archaeologist’s duties generally include:
  • Surveying potential excavation sites using aerial photography or field walking
  • Planning and working on excavations as part of a team
  • Using photography, drawings, and written reports to record and categorise findings
  • Examining, cleaning, and preserving historic artefacts and buildings
  • Evaluating planning applications and assessing the archaeological impact
  • Using carbon dating in a laboratory to analyse findings
  • Teaching, and giving talks and lectures about archaeology
  • Arranging, displaying, and taking care of artefacts in a museum

A naturally inquisitive nature, as well as a keen interest in history, are essential attributes for anyone looking to become an Archaeologist. You’ll also need to be highly organised with a meticulous attention to detail, to allow you to pick up on concealed discoveries and categorise them appropriately. And, as a lot of your work will involve a large amount of care and intricacy, patience and dexterity are equally important qualities. Clumsy people need not apply… An Archaeologist should also have:
  • Perseverance and dedication
  • A methodical approach to their work
  • The ability to work well in a team or lead a group
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Flexibility
  • An analytical mind
  • Self-motivation
  • Excellent IT skills



Up to £30,000

Site Director

Up to £35,000

Academic Archaeologist

Up to £40,000

"Contrary to what Time Team would have you believe, the role of an Archaeologist is surprisingly varied. One week I could be working on an excavation site in the middle of the countryside, and the next I could be giving a University lecture about the latest archaeological developments. I’m lucky enough to have a permanent job at a museum, which gives me a stable base for my work. There, I organise and display the historical artefacts, predominantly Roman – but nothing beats being out in the field. I love having a job where I can really get my hands dirty, even if it takes significantly longer than three days for a dig. Sorry Tony…"

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