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Archaeologist Profile

Archaeologist Profile

Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Archaeologist. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Archaeologist
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Archaeologist Work Information

 

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Archaeologists learn about the past from material remains, which could be anything from fragments of bone to buried cities.

Excavations (called 'digs') are only part of the work - a lot more time is spent planning, before the excavation takes place, and analysing and recording finds afterwards. Archaeologists also use investigative techniques such as:

• Fieldwalking - searching ploughed fields for artefacts such as pieces of pottery or Roman coins.
• Aerial photography - this can show up bumps or depressions in the ground that are characteristic of ancient settlements.
• Laboratory tests, such as radio carbon dating.

Some archaeologists work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. On excavations, hours are more variable. Some archaeologists work indoors, in comfortable conditions, but excavations frequently involve working outdoors in all weathers.

An archaeologist should:

• be patient, persistent and determined
• be able to work accurately, paying attention to detail
• have a passionate interest in the subject, and to be able to demonstrate this.

Around 40 per cent of archaeologists work for commercial organisations which carry out field investigation and research. They are also employed by national bodies such as English Heritage, Historic Scotland and CADW in Wales. Archaeologists usually need a degree - 90 per cent of the profession are graduates. Although many professional archaeologists have degrees in archaeology, some have degrees in related subjects such as geography or biology. Archaeologists are likely to need to gain experience of field excavation work before getting a paid job.

Only a small proportion of people who study archaeology make a long-term career in the profession. It can be difficult to get established in this field, and the early years are likely to involve a series of short-term contracts.

What does the role encounter?

Archaeologists learn about the past from material remains, which could be anything from fragments of bone to buried cities. Excavations (called 'digs') are only part of the work, and the time spent actually digging is relatively short. A lot more time is spent planning, before the excavation takes place, and analysing and recording finds afterwards. Archaeologists also use investigative techniques such as:

• Fieldwalking - searching ploughed fields for artefacts such as pieces of pottery or Roman coins.
• Aerial photography - this can show up bumps or depressions in the ground that are characteristic of ancient settlements.
• Geophysical surveying - using devices which detect remains of human activity buried underground.
• Laboratory tests, such as radio carbon dating.

Some archaeologists are also involved with interpreting and displaying their finds in museums. Increasingly, they use computers to create films, simulations and virtual reality - giving visitors an insight into a Roman temple or an Anglo-Saxon village, for example. Other archaeologists are concerned with conservation, with recording and analysing historic sites and monuments, or teaching in universities, colleges or schools. Archaeologists usually specialise in a particular aspect of their subject. They use a wide range of equipment, varying from sophisticated laboratory instruments and computers, to the humble pointing trowel, which is essential for excavations.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Some archaeologists work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. On excavations, hours are more variable. Part-time work is possible.

The workplace and working conditions are very varied. Some archaeologists work indoors, in comfortable conditions, but excavations frequently involve working outdoors in all weathers. Excavating can involve kneeling and working in cramped, muddy conditions and requires the use of protective clothing.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• Salaries start from £12,720 (Institute of Field Archaeologists' recommended minimum).
• The average salary is around £19,161.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• be patient, persistent and determined
• be methodical and well organised
• have an enquiring mind
• be able to work accurately, paying attention to detail
• be capable of handling delicate objects with care
• possess good communications skills
• be able to work as a member of a team
• be adaptable, and able to keep up with changes in the profession
• have IT skills
• (for excavations) have a reasonable level of physical fitness.

What type of training will I receive?

Archaeologists are likely to need to gain experience of field excavation work before getting a paid job. Degree courses generally include some fieldwork, but people probably need additional experience as a volunteer. Employers may provide short training courses related to their specific role.

Career Progression:

Only a small proportion of people who study archaeology make a long-term career in the profession. It can be difficult to get established in this field, and the early years are likely to involve a series of short-term contracts.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Archivist
Conservation Officer/Restorer
Countryside/Conservation Officer
Lecturer: Higher Education
Librarian
Museum/Art Gallery Curator
Museum Attendant
Researcher: Media
Scientist
Surveyor: Chartered.

Where can I find further information?

Bridgwater College, Bath Road, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 4PZ. 01278 455464. Website: www.bridgwater.ac.uk

Council for British Archaeology, Bowes Morrell House, 111 Walmgate, York YO1 9WA. 01904 671417. Website: www.britarch.ac.uk

The Council for Scottish Archaeology (CSA), c/o National Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF. 0131 247 4119. Website: www.britarch.ac.uk/csa

Cultural Heritage National Training Organisation, 7 Burnett Street, Little Germany, Bradford BD1 5BJ. 01274 391056. Website: www.chnto.co.uk

Institute of Field Archaeologists, University of Reading, SHES, Whiteknights, PO Box 227, Reading RG6 6AB. 0118 931 6446. Website: www.archaeologists.net

King Alfred's, Sparkford Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 4NR. 01962 841515. Website: www.wkac.ac.uk

Museums Association, 24 Calvin Street, London E1 6NW. 020 7426 6970. Website: www.museumsassociation.org

Salisbury College, Southampton Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 2LW. 01722 344344. Website: www.salisbury.ac.uk

School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB. 01202 595444. Website: www.bournemouth.ac.uk/conservation

Truro College, College Road, Truro, Cornwall TR1 3XX. 01872 267000.

Ulster Archaeological Society, c/o Archaeology and Ethnography, Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB. 028 9038 3051.

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

The Archaeologist
British Archaeology.


Other Useful Archaeologist Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Archaeologist job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Archaeologist Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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