Job Description

Archaeologists can be found doing many different tasks related to uncovering the past and determining how Mankind existed in past centuries. Their primary goal is to untie, solve and explain history’s biggest questions so that humanity can get a better understanding of how the world once was.

Of the many different tasks involved in archaeology, many can be categorized in two main field; fieldwork and research/experimentation.

Fieldwork involves archaeologists travelling to historic sites or remote locations to dig up and discover old artifacts from a past time. Things like tools, building ruins, and bones are considered to be the best findings an archaeologist can come across but any item that dates back to a previous culture can turn out to be very significant in solving a particular archaeology question. Archaeologists are responsible for uncovering, identifying and preserving these artifacts so that humanity can have physical entities to connect us with the past.

The research and lab portion of an archaeologist’s job is where those artifacts are cleaned, analyzed and dissected to determine what part of history they are from and how critical they were to that time/culture. No detail is too small or overlooked as the key to everything is connecting the present with the past to help humans have a better understanding of what came before. Once the research and tests are done, archaeologists will publish reports on their findings and even send some of those artifacts to places like museums for historical perseverance.

Educational Background

Those looking to get on the path to a career in archaeology must begin by earning a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology. This field of study will cover various archaeology subjects like linguistics, biological anthropology and archaeology to give the individual a very broad understanding of all the topics they must have a solid comprehension of to find employment. Often times studies here will combine classroom work with fieldwork, laboratory work and/or internship programs so that students can gain experience in all areas of archaeology. As so much of an archaeologist’s day-to-day activities is related to fieldwork and findings, it’s important for students to not solely rely on their classroom knowledge when entering the field.

A Bachelor’s degree will generally only enable one to find employment in entry-level archaeology positions. Things like a field assistant, surveyor or museum technician jobs are great at this level but for those who are looking to make archaeology a life-long career at least a Master’s degree in archaeology is required.

Obtaining a Master’s or Ph.D. in archaeology will open up so many more possibilities for one’s career in the field and once significant experience is gained in the field and/or lab setting, opportunities for advancement are readily available. This would include positions such as a college/university profession, museum curator or head field analyst on an artifact finding expedition.

Other skills needed to exceed in the field

Completing a Master’s or Ph.D. degree in archaeology will teach the individual many important skills but a strong schooling background isn’t all a prospective archaeologist should concern themselves with. Some of the other critical skills necessary to ensure success in this industry are:

  • Thorough and extensive knowledge of history
  • Great analytical skills
  • Strong attention to detail and precision in fact-finding
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Interpersonal skills

All these are needed for an archaeologist to succeed because they will come in contact with very rare artifacts at times and must quickly determine how critical they are to a specific search. Also, because most excavation missions are conducted by large teams of archaeologists, making sure everyone is on the same page and helping one another is important to the project as a whole.