Archaeologist Career Information

Archaeologists have fascinating careers because the work doesn’t ever get dull. An archeologist is like historical detectives, putting together the story of humanity. This is one of the few professions that can rewrite history with a day's work and thus is a profession for real experts and truly dedicated people.

The work environment

Archaeological work varies considerably, The work may include:

  • Historical research: Archaeological science depends on research of materials which may be as diverse as original hieroglyphs, previous archaeological work, collecting references in ancient texts, investigating other esoteric information and evidence.
  • Archaeological digs: The public face of archaeology, “digs” is extensive, planned excavations of sites. Many digs operate for decades. Some dig sites in Egypt have been in operation for over a century. Archaeological digs require patience, and can be very time consuming.
  • Scientific analyses reports: The forensic part of archaeology is vitally important in analyses of ancient materials. It provides large amounts of date on everything from diet to ancient technology and designs.
  • Site surveys: A critical part of archaeological work is planning site investigations. Maps, satellite imagery, and other materials are used to put together an operational plan.
  • Getting local information regarding sites: Many sites are in fact discovered by local residents, who are the primary sources of initial archaeological information. Additional cultural information is also useful in assessing ancient cultures, because many modern cultures include aspects of their ancient historical practices, writing, and other important clues for interpreting sites. This local information can be extremely useful in research, and often provides previously unknown data regarding sites.
  • Writing scientific papers: Archaeological investigations are highly documented and contain a lot of research data. A scientific paper may involve information regarding one aspect of an investigation, or a paper detailing the entire projects. A project may produce thousands of pages of data.
  • Extensive international and local site traveling: Archaeological research involves a large amount of travel, particularly local travel around sites. Much information is obtained from research on the ground. It's necessary to conduct research on foot and by road in the vicinity of a new site in particular. 

Pay and Work Hours

Archaeological jobs are based on project budgets and ongoing funding. Wages and salaries are dictated by these factors. The median salary is approximately $50-60,000 depending on experience. However, archaeologists can also make considerably more through their publications and media products. There are no fixed hours of work. Site work may involve seasonal work in inhospitable areas.

The career environment

Archaeology is one of the world's more popular sciences. New scientific methods have created a lot of career opportunities for research, and the need for qualified people is increasing. A lot of old archaeological data is also being re-examined, creating further demand. The great interest in archaeological media products is adding to that demand, with qualified researchers and presenters required for productions. The number of archaeologists in the US is predicted to increase by 15% in the next decade.