Topic ID #26202 - posted 1/11/2013 1:30 PM

Should I go to field school again?


I just graduated from college in December with a BA in anthropological archaeology, and I'm hoping to get a little job--as a temporary field tech or something--before I go back to get an MA. I notice, however, that most positions aren't really interested in hiring people unless they have 6 months or a year or two (or more) of excavation experience. I attended field school in Peru in 2010 for a month, and that's the only excavation experience I have. I've done a few other related things--I interned at an archaeology center and did curation for three months, and I've been curating for a local archaeology society since I was in high school--but that's it. Would it be a good idea to go to another field school, or is that a waste of time and money? Any suggestions for how to conquer the age-old problem of not being able to get job experience because they won't hire you without job experience? I'd really appreciate any guidance. 

Post ID#19928 - replied 1/11/2013 6:52 PM


If you can, that sounds like a good idea. This time, though, if you are looking to work in the U.S., find a field school here. There are lots to choose from, long, short, and all over the country, historic, prehistoric, so you can get the sort of field experience you think will be the most useful to you. Good luck!

Post ID#19936 - replied 1/21/2013 8:42 AM


I think a field school, or at least paying for the credits, would be a waste of money.  If you have one in mind, you might want to contact the director and offer to volunteer at it.

In terms of being a field tech, I wouldn't worry too much about the field work requirement -- I'd just apply to every ad you see, regardless.  Don't get too discouraged, most of the hiring for the summer field season wont be until early/middle spring.

Post ID#19938 - replied 1/22/2013 8:28 AM


There are certainly programs out there that you can volunteer at without having to pay for credit-hours.  

If you'll forgive the advert/shill, here's an example from where I work (so technically not a shill) that encompasses both field school and internship/professional experiences.  

James Madison's Montpelier (Montpelier Station, Virginia) offers a 0-credit field school from Mid-May to the end of July.  This is concurrent with two historical archaeology field schools run through James Madison University and SUNY Plattsburgh, so space is limited by housing considerations (~20-25 students per field school).  The only expense is housing ($350 for 4-5 weeks) and, if you don't have your own, equipment ($50).  For more information on the field schools see the following link:

Along with the 0-credit field school option, we also run an internship program that offers a number of opportunities for students and recent-graduates that are trying to increase their experience base:
  • Summer Internships.  For individuals that have taken a field school (usually at Montpelier but not exclusively), a number of positions as field interns are open.  Both paid and unpaid internships are available, with the number of paid internships limited and, of course, competitive.  Commonly these internships run from mid-June (after the first field school) and are almost always Phase II-III excavations of a historic site.
  • Winter Internships.  Designed for recent graduates, these paid internships extend from mid-August to March/April of the following year, and incorporate Phase I and other types of survey (walk-over, geophysics etc.).  The end-date is designed to coincide with the principle hiring period, so it's a great way of getting experience over the winter period, gaining experience with post-excavation analysis and processing of the year's finds and samples etc.  Be warned, though, there is a requirement for "winter interns" to have an independent research project that will be presented at an archaeology conference (typically the SHA or MAAC), but on the bright side you get to sit down with the supervisors and work on your resume/CV, cover letters etc.
  • Assistant Archaeology Technician/Laboratory Technician.  I mention these just in case you happen to download the documentation from the website, below, but due to funding constraints this type of internship is not available in 2013.
The housing for internships is a taxable fringe benefit, so has an out-of-pocket cost of about $10/week during the internship, but with the pay being what it is (it's archaeology and an internship) the chances are that you get to claim this back the following year.  Montpelier interns are also involved in the programming at Montpelier, so you'll experience public archaeology and gain supervisory experience in working with students (in the second field school) and adult volunteers.

For more information on the Internship Program, see the following page:

Of course, if you're into prehistoric archaeology then this might not be your cup of tea.  On the other hand, it offers a wide experience base (up to 11-12 months), it dovetails into the hiring schedules and, for those wanting to go onto graduate school, provides some examples of independent research, conference presentations, writing samples, and networking.

Post ID#19946 - replied 1/29/2013 4:50 PM

JL Raab

I would recommend a "paid" internship through the USDA Forest Service or NPS using Student Conservation Corps (   There's an administrative fee of about $25 to apply to postings but everyone I know, including myself, who sought an archaeology internship through the SCA was placed with either agency.  Depending on the length of your assignment, you will receive an Americorps award that you can put toward your student loan debt or future graduate education tuition. 

The average placement is between 3-6 months, the majority of which occur in the summer but they tend to have stuff that pops up year round.  If you accept an internship that requires a flight or a considerable driving distance, your ticket or your mileage is reimbursed.  I call it "paid" because its not really an hourly tech job, but you will receive a small bi-weekly stipend.  The agency will also provide paid housing for the length of your internship.  

The benefits of an SCA internship are as follows:

  • You get excellent training on practical applications for Section 106, NEPA, and CEQA (if you're going to work in California)
  • You get federal agency experience
  • You get survey, mapping, and GIS experience
  • Networking, which really helps later if you're interested in being picked up as a GS-5/7 for seasonal or permanent positions in either agency 


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