Getting hired into an archaeology field position is the dream of both archaeology students/recent graduates and longtime practitioners alike. The skills required to perform competent archaeological work are many. A degree of physical readiness, mental aptitude, and scientific curiosity are needed in equal measures if the job is to be performed at a satisfactory level.
People who choose the path of archaeological science often joke amongst each other about the limited prospects for finding gainful, steady employment. The fact is, though, that jobs in the field of archaeology are widely available. Some of the open positions are purely scientific and research-oriented in nature, while others entail your preserving archaeologically-important sites prior to industrial, residential or commercial excavation and development of a particular site.
If you are looking for archaeology field jobs, you can prepare yourself for becoming a successful hire for the type of position you always wanted with the following information.
Range of Possible Positions
In the field of archaeology, there is a range of positions available. Some positions involve almost exclusively doing field work, while others entail a good measure of lab work and report writing, as well. Some positions are more managerial in nature, while others are not. The types of positions you are likely to see advertised include artifact analyst, lab director, lab technician, project director, principal investigator, and program manager.
While the job for which you get hired will depend in part upon your experience level in different areas, you should apply for even those positions that may seem just out of reach given your background. You may be surprised about whom a hiring committee will hire when they are in need of good people. And, be sure not to underestimate those skills you do have, as they can compensate for those you lack in the eyes of your future employer.
There is no one-size-fits-all job description for archaeological field work. Still, there is a set of skills and experience that is fairly common through most or all such positions in this branch of scientific inquiry. These can be broken down neatly into the general categories of field work, lab work, and report writing.
1. Field work: This set of skills and experience includes the ability to make oneself available to collect data in the field. The ability to set up or maintain an excavation site and preserve findings for later analysis through the following of proper procedure is a must. GPS/GIS experience is also a bonus for some positions.
2. Lab work: Once you have collected your artifacts, you need to be able to manage artifact inventories and of course to conduct a competent analysis of your findings. Computer experience to aid in this analysis is also in high demand.
3. Report writing: You need to be able to communicate your findings to a wide audience using strong verbal and written communication skills. Familiarity with comparative studies is also a bonus.
For any or all of these elements of field work, the ability to manage people is sometimes also in required, depending upon the position.
Educational requirements will vary by position, but most positions are looking for candidates who have completed or are working toward a B.A. in archaeology or anthropology. Some, however, require or at least favor candidates with an M.A. or Ph.D.
Benefits You Should Expect
Archaeology positions can pay quite well for well-experienced workers. However, even entry-level positions can start at a not-too-shabby $ 12-$ 15/hour.
Many jobs’ benefits packages include paid holidays, medical, and dental plans. If your position includes field work, often your employer will cover your lodging during the course of excavation jobs, as well as transportation from your lodging to the field site each day for the duration of the job.
Working in the field of archaeology can be very rewarding. If you have the proper training and background, you owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities of getting a field work position.
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