Academic institutions are broadly divided into three groupings.
- Government operated universities offering graduate programmes.
- Private universities offering graduate programmes
- Community Training Centres offering undergraduate programmes leading to degrees.
Professional in archaeology work in all of the above institutions and in schools museums, government departments, and as private consultants for independent companies or as freelance operators.
Generally speaking, professional archaeologists will teach, both applied archaeology and other subjects; conduct field excavations on site in their home country or abroad; analyse artefacts, collate and classify them; and write and publish the results of their own research investigations whether individual or in association with others.
What You Need To Be A Field Archaeologist
The minimum academic qualification to work in archaeology as an on-site, field archaeologist is a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. Students will need to major in either archaeology or anthropology and have already participated in at least one season of archaeological excavation work on-site. The digging experience will most likely have been accomplished during the undergraduate studies as a volunteer placement, usually at a site hosted by the university.
The same archaeology or anthropology degree is necessary for employment as a basic technician in an archaeology laboratory.
How To Become A Field Supervisor
Although an academic qualification will be sufficient to permit paid work as a member of an archaeological field crew it is not a satisfactory academic qualification to allow the upper move into archaeology supervision on the excavation site. Supervisory roles nearly always require a graduate degree and supervisory positions demand either a Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.Sc.) or a Ph.D. in archaeology or anthropology.
An M.A. or M.Sc. usually takes one to two years of further study beyond the B.A. or B.Sc. degree. Some institutions will require a thesis while others offer a non-thesis degree programme. The graduate degree is sufficient to direct field staff and gain many government positions but is not enough to become the site director.
A Doctoral Degree In Archaeology
A Ph.D. is a prerequisite academic qualification for archaeology teaching positions at universities although many community training centres will employ M.A. and M.Sc. graduates to teach their undergraduate certificate and diploma courses. Most museums of any national importance will prefer academic qualifications at a master’s level for employees and a doctoral degree for a museum director.
The direction of archaeological field projects by excavation directors is limited to those holding a doctoral degree.
Variety of Specialisation In Archaeology
The education, training, and specialisation requirements for different types of archaeology work vary from position to position. University anthropology departments will employ archaeologists with appropriate academic qualifications as one of the four sub-discipline sectors within their department. Consequently, there are few independent archaeology departments and more commonly archaeology degree graduates will work alongside experts of other fields of study.
For the student going for an archaeology degree who desires to specialise in ancient or classical civilizations the specific undergraduate major is not important. However, as the languages of ancient Greek and Latin are commonplace in understanding these cultural times at least an elementary grasp of the written language is essential.
Archaeologists who wish to be members of the Society of Professional Archaeologists will need at least an academic qualification of a masters degree with an original research thesis and no less than one year of laboratory or archaeology field experience.