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Archaeologist

Archaeologists learn about the past by studying sites, excavating, classifying, recording and preserving objects.

Annual Salary

£21,100 to £36,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; flexibly

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Archaeologist jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

You could:

  • identify possible sites to study using aerial photography, field-walking and surveying
  • take part in excavations or digs
  • record finds and sites using photography, detailed notes and drawings
  • identify and classify finds
  • clean and preserve finds in a laboratory
  • use laboratory analysis like carbon-dating
  • use computers to produce simulations of the way a site or artefact would have looked
  • preserve industrial artefacts and buildings
  • check planning applications and identify the impact of development on archaeological sites
  • make sure important sites, buildings and monuments are protected
  • classify, display and look after artefacts in a museum

Working environment

You could work in an office, at a university, in a museum or visit sites.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you may spend nights away from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
University

Most professional archaeologists have a degree and many also have a postgraduate qualification.

You can do a degree in archaeology or a degree that specialises in the different aspects of the work, like:

  • conservation
  • environmental archaeology
  • human evolution
  • forensic investigation
  • archaeological science

You can search for higher education courses and see what the entry requirements are on British Archaeological Jobs and Resources.

Postgraduate qualifications can be particularly useful if you want to:be a researcher; teach archaeology in higher education; specialise in a particular area of archaeology

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Apprenticeship

You could gain relevant skills through an archaeological technician advanced apprenticeship. Then you could move on to do an archaeological specialist degree apprenticeship.

The degree apprenticeship typically takes 36 months to complete as a mix of learning in the workplace and off-the-job study at an approved university.

You can look for vacancies with organisations like:local authorities; national parks; consultancies; archaeological contractors

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

Competition for courses and jobs is very strong. It's essential that you get practical experience.

Local and regional archaeological associations often have programmes of field activities that you can join. You can look for volunteering opportunities through websites like the Council for British Archaeology.

More information

Career tips

It can be useful to have experience of things like:computer aided design (CAD); illustration; geographical information systems (GIS)

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists for professional development training and networking opportunities.

Further information

You'll find more advice on how to become an archaeologist from the Council for British Archaeology.

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To support your career progression you may find it useful to join a professional body like the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists.

As an archaeologist you could work with commercial land developers, on public sector funded projects or in academic and specialist research.

With experience, you could:progress to a senior role like site supervisor or director; become an expert in a particular field; teach degree courses; work as a freelance consultant

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • knowledge of sociology and anthropology for understanding society and culture
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • persistence and determination
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • concentration skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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