Topic ID #21343 - posted 7/7/2012 9:22 PM

Questions about Archaeology?


Hello all from Nor Cal! Been looking at the site throughout the day and saw you guys have a lot of information so figured I would bring some of my questions to you guys. I just got accepted to Cal State East Bay in California and am looking to major in anthropology concentrating on archaeology. So the first thing that pops into my mind is if getting a B.A. is enough or like more careers is at least a M.S. pretty much standard?

I've always been interested in the mysteries of the planet, was deciding between archaeology and geology as both are passions. But archaeology won out because I feel I would love it more. So the other question is when it does come time to graduate in about 2 years will the job market be there for a career as an archaeologist? I don't mind relocating, in fact in I could find a job in Europe that would be perfect. Even though it is unlikely.

Well thanks in advance!

Post ID#19674 - replied 7/9/2012 2:23 AM


Archaeology mainly follows the construction and government industries so in terms of employment it depends if you think that those sectors will be doing better in 2 years or not.

You can start with a BA though to move up your will eventually need an MA. I would reccomend going for a BA first then working for a few years in archaeology. You may not like the job, best to find that out before you waste 2+ years on a MA.

Most likely you will be relocating all over the country, at entry level all jobs are temp. It is a very nomadic life.

Europe won't happen UNLESS you have an EU passport. If you are an EU citizen then yes you can work there but if not you will not get a work visa for an archaeology job- not high tech enough and they already have their own archaeologists.

Post ID#19675 - replied 7/9/2012 6:39 AM


Take as many geology classes as you can manage.  I took several of those classes in college and find they have come in handy with my job in identifying geologic landscapes as well as identifying the different lithic materials in the field.  I possible, major in both and in that way you have something to fall back on.

Post ID#19677 - replied 7/9/2012 1:33 PM


If you want a career in archaeology that has any kind of steady income, benefits, and stability, you will need to get a graduate degree eventually.  With a bachelors, in general (there are exceptions) it is incredibly tough to rise above a technician grade.  You'll need at least an MA to run projects, write reports, etc.

In terms of working in Europe, outside of networking your way onto a well funded project, the only practical way is conducting your own research in graduate school or eventually a faculty position, where you pull in your own research money.

My general advice is to plan on eventually going to grad school.  While I agree that it's good to take some time off after getting your BA to gain some field experience, the longer you put it off, the harder it is to go back to school.  Virtually every field tech plans on going to grad school "in a couple years" -- The vast majority never do, they either continue as techs or leave the field entirely.

And not to be too negative but at this point, I'd almost recommend going into a related field and then specializing in archaeology -- The field is littered with lithic and ceramic specialists with MAs in archaeology.  It's those who specialize in geomorphology, geophysical, GIS, etc. that are in demand with somewhat inflated wages because firms need to compete without side fields for specialists.

If you want to go the traditional archaeology route, one thing to keep in mind over the next few years is that every archaeologist has an Artifact/Region/Period that they specialize in.  Just something to keep in the back of your head.

Post ID#19678 - replied 7/9/2012 4:38 PM


Thanks for all the great info guys!

I think I will see how the B.A. goes and if I'm not too burnt out on school try and get the M.A. after a semester off trying to get some field experience.

I was planning on minoring in geology and thought GIS was a pretty cool subject so I will be taking a class on that during winter and hopefully learn as much as I can. I'm going to try and pick up as much as possible while in school. Already volunteered for a couple of projects on in California and the surrounding area.

Come this fall I will start looking for summer internships and hopefully get a decent one to learn even more!

As far as jobs go I think I will look at government first, since being a veteran helps a bit there, and then look to other companies as well. Thanks for the info on the experience, figured that's what is more important while attending school that way I can get ready for field tech jobs when the time does come.

Post ID#19681 - replied 7/10/2012 7:21 AM


I'd have to ditto what everyone else has told you. I just wanted to add to what KB was saying about the field being littered with traditional archaeological specialists. Getting a minor or a certificate in some related discipline is almost a requirement anymore. CRM archaeology is very multi-disciplinary in its demands. Anymore if you work for a small or mid-sized firm you'll have an archaeologist who on top of everything else will be doing some GIS or managing/fixing computer equipment in the field or office, maybe one person who works on the company website, and someone who is in charge of graphics/layout for reports. Sadly most archaeo programs don't require training in these associated skills. I'd argue though that a minor in GIS, IT, or graphic design would make you a more desirable employee and those are all handy fall-back skills when times are tough. 

Post ID#19687 - replied 7/13/2012 6:35 PM


Definitely do something towards at least a certification in GIS, I ignored my undergrad advisors recommendation to do that and was kicking myself 6 months after graduation when I found that a lot of CRM companies want some knowledge of GIS. I would also recommend a possible minor in Environmental Sciences. I find it amusing that as I write this response that if I had followed all of the recommendations that the others had posted, plus my own, and everything that I have found that I really wish I knew more about after working in the CRM field, I would still be working on my undergrad degree.

Post ID#19701 - replied 7/24/2012 6:42 PM


Back in the day it used to be the case that having GIS experience was a ticket to great wages and lucrative jobs.  I'm afraid that's no longer true.  Not having GIS qualifications in you resume is going to harm you more than having it.


Visit our Employment Network websites: - - For information on advertising on this website, contact