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Career as an Archaeologist

Who is an Archaeologist?

Archaeologist is a person that studies human history, particularly the culture of historic and prehistoric people, through discovery and exploration of remains, structures and writings.

What does an Archaeologist do?

Archaeologists use scientific sampling techniques and use them to decide the location where they have to dig. They observe, record, categorize, and interpret what they have found, then share their findings with other scientists and the public.

They gather knowledge from the humanities and social, physical, and biological sciences, and examine the ways of prehistoric societies in various parts of the planet. They also examine the customs, values, and social patterns of various cultures.

To the archaeologist, history is separated into eight distinct time periods. Each time period can also be sub-divided into more specific periods.

Many archaeologists have committed their lives to studying only one branch:

Stone Age: before 4000 BC

Chalcolithic: 4000 - 3150 BC

Bronze Age: 3150 - 1200 BC

Iron Age: 1200 - 300 BC

Hellenistic: 330 - 37 BC

Roman: 37 BC - AD 324

Byzantine: AD 324 - 636

Islamic: AD 636 - today

Many archaeologists use sophisticated tools and technologies in their work. Although tasks vary by specialty, materials often include excavating tools, laboratory equipment, statistical and database software, and geographic information systems (GIS).

Types of Archaeologists-

  • Landscape archaeologists - search for traces of ancient sites

  • Archaeological surveyors - plan and record earthworks, building, and excavated sites

  • Field technicians - do the hard work of excavation and extraction of relics

  • Archaeological photographers - take photos of the location before, during, and after excavation; and of individual relics

  • Archaeological conservators - preserve the artefacts for future generations

  • Finds specialists - date, analyse, identify, and interpret artefacts

  • Archaeological illustrators - complete drawings of objects, work on publication plans, and style and typeset archaeological books and publications

  • Environmental scientists - study and reconstruct the relationships between past societies and the environments they lived in. They work to identify the diet, health and living conditions of these societies

  • Human bones experts - identify and interpret human skeletal remains

  • Finds curators - organize the long-term storage and aftercare of artefacts

What is the workplace of an Archaeologist like?

Professional archaeologists work for universities, museums, governments, private companies, and as consultants.

Archaeological work is conducted either outdoors during field work or in an office environment when writing reports or research papers.

The most hazardous aspect of Archaeology is the occupational health and safety risk involved in outdoor work.

Archaeologists may go in either a full time capacity, part time capacity, on individual field work projects, or during a freelance capacity.

Field work generally requires extensive hours of labour in hot and sunny conditions.

Often Archaeologists work away from home but opportunities such as those in Museums can be found locally.

Knowledge areas that need to be acquired –

* Arts and Humanities

* History and Archaeology

* English language

* Math and Science

* Sociology and Anthropology

* Geography

* Engineering and Technology

* Computers and Electronics

* Education and Training

* Teaching and course design

Skills –

Basic Skills

• writing things for co-workers or customers

• listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions

Problem Solving

• noticing a drag and deciding the simplest thanks to solve it

people and technology systems

• thinking about the pros and cons of various options and picking the simplest one

• figuring out how a system should work and the way changes within the future will affect it.

Technology Skills-

You might use software like this on the job:

Map creation software

• ESRI ArcGIS software

• Geographic data system GIS software

Data base interface and query software

• Archaeological Sites Management data system ASMIS

• Microsoft Access

Graphics or photo imaging software

• Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop

• Graphics software

Abilities –


• read and understand what's written

• communicate by speaking

Ideas and Logic

• make general rules or come up with answers from many detailed information

• use rules to unravel problems

Visual Understanding

• see hidden patterns

• quickly know what you're watching


• pay attention to something without being distracted

Personality –

People curious about this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.

They do well at jobs that need:

• Attention to Detail

• Analytical Thinking

• Integrity

• Persistence

• Cooperation

Education –

The basic educational requirement for an archaeologist may be a master’s degree in archaeology. However, a Ph.D. degree could also be preferred for higher-level positions. Doctorate degrees can also be necessary if one wants to use for grants to pursue research programs. Those with a bachelor’s degree are generally recruited for entry-level jobs like trainee archaeologist, research assistant, and writer.

Job outlook –

Both the private and therefore the public sector offer employment opportunities within the field of archaeology.

Generally, archaeologists start their careers by assisting senior researchers in museums and archives. Information regarding such job openings is usually advertised in websites on the web, and in newspapers. It’d even be an honest idea to become a member of an archaeological society as these associations offer the scope of interacting with others within the profession. One also can choose faculty positions in colleges and universities.

Salary: Median— around 5 to 8 lacs annually

Employment Outlook: Fair

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there still a lot of work in this field of employment these days?

Yes, there is, but there are fewer archaeologists on the street than are represented by most other jobs. Archaeological investigations are conducted every year because of heritage laws which were written to protect, among other things, archaeological sites. Most major building projects, be they development of a sub-division, or construction of a highway, require an archaeological assessment. Only a professional consulting archaeologist can carry out that kind of Cultural Resource Management assessment. The consulting archaeologists can’t do all the work by themselves, so they often hire people with archaeological experience to help them.

What is the best part about being an archaeologist?

A favourite part about being an archaeologist, for many archaeologists who answered this question, has to do with the people they meet, the travel involved, and the fact that one day is almost never like the next. Some archaeologists have said that they enjoy anticipation of discovering something that was previously unknown.

How do archaeologists become interested in this career?

Some people stumble onto archaeology as a career after they have tried a few other things. Some learn about archaeology through reading books, or have friends who had become archaeologists. Some people start off learning about archaeology as a casual interest, and then get very serious about it. Other people just know that archaeology is the career for them from an early age.

What skills do you need to become successful in this career?

Archaeologists need to be able to adapt to change fairly rapidly, think on their feet, write well, and get along with lots of different people, such as colleagues, employees, and landowners (who must give permission to go on their land).

How long does it take to study an archaeological site?

Archaeological projects vary a great deal. In some cases, excavations at a single site can last years or decades, while in others, a few hours investigation is all that's required.

How much money can you make in this occupation?

Income depends on whether you are in business for yourself or working for an institution such as a museum or government agency. One must realize that for most archaeologists, employment involves short-term contracts with no employment benefits. According to one archaeologist consulted, “If you get an advanced degree (MA or PhD), you can earn enough to have a house with a mortgage and raise a family, but archaeology has never been the place to get rich.” Another archaeologist has suggested that “archaeology is best undertaken by those of independent means.” On average, an experienced archaeologist can anticipate earning about as much as the average teacher.

Is there a lot of reading and writing involved with this job?

Excellent reading and writing skills are an essential part of being an archaeologist. Reading is an important part of research, and since all archaeological work requires that detailed reports be submitted to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and archaeologists are also expected to publish the results of their work, writing is too.

How many hours a day do you work?

The work day really varies. If you're in the field, some days last as long as the sunlight does; but that is under unusual circumstances. Usually labour laws restrict a work crew from working more than eight hours in any one given day. In many locations, archaeology in the field is a seasonal activity, for both the professional and the avocational archaeologist. Unless a person is employed in the off-season to write reports, most archaeological work only takes place during a fairly intensive field season, usually in the summer. For the non-professional, job availability is usually restricted to this field season.

YouTube Links for further reference-

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