Topic ID #27822 - posted 3/22/2013 10:56 AM

Has anyone else noticed this trend?


The past couple of days I have noticed this vaguely disturbing trend. Well, disturbing to me. Two jobs have come up in the last two days, one here and one on Shovelbums, for field techs. In both cases, the employers were looking for field techs with master's degrees that could be permitted. Master's degrees? For a tech position? One only wanted a field school or 6 mos. experience, but that MS needed to be there. Is this the latest trend? Where does that leave those of us with decades of experience but no master's?

Post ID#20031 - replied 3/22/2013 4:26 PM


It happens everyone once and while. I have been tracking those numbers for a decade now and you always get one or two or 6 every year.

Probably because you saw two in a row it caught your attention but there are also a few a year that ask for an MA. Usually, non-crm firms or gov orgs. ask for them but it does not appear to be an increase, YET. To be honest with the last 5 years I am surprised it hasn't gone up.

Post ID#20032 - replied 3/22/2013 5:57 PM


I was afraid it might, due to the exodus out of the field into grad schools a couple of years ago when the economy tanked, resulting in a glut of MS's on the market now. Why settle for bachelors' when you can get MA's for the same price?

Post ID#20033 - replied 3/23/2013 3:21 AM

Jennifer Palmer

Archaeovagrant, what location were these posts for? My first guess would be the SW. Just curious. I post so much here that the details are a bit of a blur.

With the job market being so competitive, I'm a little surprised that the MA requirement hasn't popped up more often for the crew chief positions here in the NE.

Post ID#20034 - replied 3/23/2013 6:38 AM


Heh.  Even though its not a requirement, I would be you'd be competeing against at least a few down-and-out MAs, like myself.

Thankfully, for the non-MA crowd, I have been getting the "you don't need this job, you are overqualified" spiel.  Unfortunately, my rent and my student loans haven't been told that I can't work because I am overqualified.

Post ID#20035 - replied 3/23/2013 7:36 AM


Jen: One was in CO and the other in AZ, I think. I understand requiring an MA for crew chief positions (I don't agree with it, but I understand it) but for a field tech?

McBain: I know about the unemployed MAs, and I'm not grateful you can't find work. Been there, done that. I hope we all can have a successful field season this year. Good luck in your search,

Post ID#20041 - replied 3/25/2013 6:27 AM


If the one you saw in AZ is the one I'm thinking about (Northern AZ? On Shovelbums?), that is actually a monitoring job (no the ad didn't say it, but I know what job it is), so an MA had to be requested in the job posting because the company has to ensure that at least one on site has a Masters. 

Post ID#20044 - replied 3/25/2013 7:35 AM

SHPO Grunt

I have seen a few Programmatic Agreements, and a few Memorandums of Agreement, which require that the person in direct control of the fieldwork, not just the PI, meet the Secretary of Interiors Standards.  Which means at least a Masters.  

Just something to be aware of, particularly when it comes to PA's, as it is very rare that the archaeological consultant is at the table when these are negotiated.  Often a PA is used to streamline the timetables for consultation, often by giving more decision making authority to those in the field, and omitting the need for SHPO consultation on the more mundane aspects of identification and evaluation.  The trade off is requiring a Masters for the person making those decisions.  Now, I more than agree that there people without a Masters who do a much better job that some folks who do have one.  But most federal agencies and SHPO's do not want to get involved in reviewing resumes/qualifications for individual undertakings.  So, there winds up being a blanket requirement.

Post ID#20045 - replied 3/26/2013 8:18 AM


Whenever I develop a PA (typically alternatives to the standard path for review as SHPO Grunt suggests - including altered time frames, monitoring during construction - thus an effect determination can not be made bin advance,....or lots of other reasons) or an MOA (Specific actions to mitigate an already identified site that is being adversely affected) - I like to be sure that either a) the archaeological work plan is already reviewed and included in the document - wiht an understanding of who will be doing the work; or b) that the documents insures that any such plan will be developed in consultation with SHPO amd the Agency (and the Native Americans if appropriate)  and can not move to being carried out until it has been fully approved.  - So the SHPO does retain a high level of review capability even with a well written PA/MOA.

As for having an MA (or fully qualified in some way person) in the field and not just in the lab -OF COURSE.  I can not tell you how many horribly written or documented reports I have had to read where the excuse is that the material I request simply was not collected in the field!  Yet the report was written by (and submitted by) someone that should have known better.  Personally I hate the concept of having reports written by someone that visited a site once or twice during the work - they have no understanding of the site as it was revealed, they are often not aware of the conditions that existed which may have affected the outcome....etc.  That would be like a novelist having someone else do all the background research, reading a summary of that work and trying to write a major novel based on those notes alone.  Nothing beats being part of the experience to be able to convey the details to others.   That said - I have worked with many qualified non-MA folks for many years - and I support them fully - to the point that they should be the ones doing the writing and submitting as well.  If you need and MA to sign - so be it, but if they have not been involved in the work - please keep them away from the writing process.   ---------------All thoughts expressed are mine and not my employers  ; ^ )  ;)

Post ID#20048 - replied 3/27/2013 2:19 PM


I cannot speak to any increase in frequency, but there does seem to have been a fair amount of academic inflation. I've seen a number of jobs that required a master's, although they didn't seem to actually need that level of education for the specified job duties.

On the subject of report writing, I've been privy to some disappointing information. I've steered clear of for-profit CRM myself, but most of the people that I went to grad school with have spent a number of years in that area. I don't want to cast aspersions on any single firm; but, I know that some of the most well-respected firms frequently have the majority of a report written before any field work has even been started. Most of my friends have been pressured, once in the field, to simply confirm what was already in the report, so that it could be pencil-whipped through the system (not coincidentally, they are almost all working outside archaeology now).

I know that, for the past several years, it has been increasingly more difficult to match available funding with appropriate funding targets, leaving me looking at either trying to join in the CRM kerfuffle or jump ship myself. So, I may soon be another one of those MAs competing for entry-level work.

Post ID#20049 - replied 3/27/2013 3:43 PM


I know, since I've done it, that sometimes a lot of the new report is just cut and paste from the previous report(s) from the project area, so yes, sometimes the previous report is mostly written in advance. But the findings aren't since they haven't been found yet. It would seem to me that it would be pretty unethical to force the findings into an already written report. I know the clients always hope you don't find anything, but they get what they get. I myself have never seen what you describe, but I have had clients try to argue that you didn't see what you know you saw, and I've been overruled on eligibility questions by bosses because they didn't want to have to deal with a client.

Post ID#20052 - replied 3/28/2013 9:15 AM


YIKES - Anyone doing that kind of work should be dismissed, and the company principal - if condoning the action - should be reported to the RPA. 

It is not unusual, in fact it is good practice - to do a lot of background research before hitting the field, and that should be written and provided for everyone on the crew to look through so they know the background.  That work should also include evaluation of field methods to insure that they appropriate techniques for the environment, the suspected resources and any other conditions (i.e. backhoe vs. hand testing; shovels vs. coring methods, etc.) . 

If that is what they are referring to  as "large parts" being written before the field work - that is fine.  However trying to make the results fit that preliminary work is just wrong, unethical and should be reported.  Likewise if there is an attempt to bend the results to fit a client's wishes, that only hurts everyone in the long run.  Including the client when his/her timeline is screwed up when "late" finds cause construction hold ups (see the stories about mounds in the south) . 

All of us, even the lowliest techs, have an ethical responsibility to do good work.  I know that can be hard, but your friends should have been aware that there are places to work where such practices are not accepted.  I am sorry if it was their experiences that chased them from the field.

If anyone is intersted in seeing more fully developed thoughts on this issue of ethics, of how we affect the perception of ourselves by the general public and how that has the potential to create real harm for our science (and our livelihoods) take a look at my chapter -9- in Archaeology & Cultural Resource Management : Visions for the Future (edited by Lynne Sebastian and Bill Lipe; see )- titled Is the Same Old Thing Enough for Twenty-first Century CRM? Keeping CRM Archaeology Relevant in a New Millennium.  The entire volume is full of great material for thinking about how we do what we do - and where we need to be going.

Post ID#20053 - replied 3/28/2013 9:22 AM


Getting back on topic, I haven't seen any more ads like those first two, so I guess they were sort of an aberrant uptick in the number of ads requiring a master's to do the job of anyone with a field school behind them. Oh, well.

Post ID#20054 - replied 3/28/2013 1:01 PM


I don't want to distract from the main topic of the thread, but I do agree that large sections of historic background, methodological justification, and even broad elements of physical setting are often "recyclable" when working projects in the same area.

I also don't want to imply that there was ever an overt attempt to dismiss documented findings. More often then not, it was more along the lines of having ruled areas as low probability based on preliminary predictive modeling, and not altering the testing strategy when it was clear from ground truth that the area in question was richly populated with cultural resources. Often, these issues arose at the nexus of questions about state sovereignty of submerged lands, the definition of "effect," and use of the area in the proposed plan for change.

I've also known it to go the other way, where the crew would fail to perform the prescribed testing, to get home a day earlier (with pay); that's more of a supervision problem than an intentionally unethical practice on the part of the firm, but still problematic. However, I suppose this isn't the thread to get into my thoughts on field inspection from an independent body.

Back to the subject at hand, I expect that those keeping track of such things would probably see a lot of it in Florida, especially near the doctoral degree granting universities. However, the turnover on those jobs is pretty high as well, as there's always a new wave of grad students to plug into those positions, and the pay is lower than the surrounding states (although the county-level governments generally pay enough to retain their employees, and I had a positive two-year experience with Pinellas myself).


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