On-site

Archaeologist

Archaeologists learn about the past by studying sites and excavating, classifying, recording and preserving objects.

Annual Salary

£17,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Archaeologist jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You could work for organisations like English Heritage, the National Trust, local councils, or museums and universities.

Your day-to-day duties will depend on your specialist area, but could include:

  • identifying possible sites to study using aerial photography, field-walking and surveying
  • taking part in excavations or digs
  • recording finds and sites using photography, detailed notes and drawings
  • identifying and classifying finds
  • cleaning and preserving finds in a laboratory
  • using laboratory analysis like carbon-dating
  • using computers to produce simulations of the way a site or artefact would have looked
  • preserving industrial artefacts and buildings
  • checking planning applications and identifying the impact of development on archaeological sites
  • making sure important sites, buildings and monuments are protected
  • classifying, displaying and looking after artefacts in a museum

You may also carry out research and publish your findings, or teach at universities, colleges or schools.

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 degree courses in archaeology, as well as those specialising in different aspects of the work, like:

  • conservation
  • environmental archaeology
  • human evolution
  • forensic investigation
  • archaeological science

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

You'll usually need:

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

Apprenticeship

You may be able to do an archaeological specialist degree apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship

More information

Volunteering and experience

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

Local and regional archaeological associations often have programmes of field activities that you can join. You'll find details of volunteering opportunities through the Council for British Archaeology.

Further information

Experience and qualifications in computer aided design (CAD), illustration and geographical information systems (GIS) can be helpful.

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

You'll find more advice on how to become an archaeologist from the Council for British Archaeology and Creative Choices.

£17,000 to £40,000

Starter salary: £17,000 to £19,000

Experienced salary: £20,000 to £30,000

These figures are a guide.

37 to 40

You'll usually work around 37 hours a week, but this could vary if you're working on a dig.

Temporary contracts are common.

Your workplace and working conditions will vary depending on the job. You may work outdoors doing excavation work or indoors at a museum, laboratory or office.

You may find it useful to join a professional body like the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists.

With experience, you may be able to progress to a senior role like site supervisor or director.

You could also specialise in teaching or preservation.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • knowledge of sociology and anthropology for understanding society and culture
  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of geography
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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