How To Become An Archaeologist

To become an Archaeologist, you have multiple skills and fields of expertise.

Their work follows a sequence and starts with identifying potential new dig sites; organizing excavation work; recording facts about surface features, finding the exact location of unearthed artifacts; identifying and dating artifacts; comparing discoveries at a new site with those from existing sites; analyzing data to develop new hypotheses or contribute to existing theories; and writing papers documenting their research findings. To learn if this career path will suit you well, you can take a free career quiz.

Archaeologist Salary

  • Average Salary: $57,420
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,397,000

Archaeologists study, examine, recover, and/or preserve artifacts and other evidence from human cultures of the past. They usually are analyzing skeletal relics and artifacts, for example, pottery, tools, ruins of buildings, or cave paintings.

They connect data on past environments with these artifacts to discover and unveil the history, living habits, and customs of peoples in past eras. These professionals can also be found managing and protecting valuable archaeological sites, and quite a few are employed by national parks or work at historical sites, where they can educate the public and provide protection. Other archaeologists examine construction sites to make sure development plans are done in line with federal preservation regulations.

Required education

Archaeologists and anthropologists need to hold a master’s degree for most positions, and usually, a master’s degree program lasts two years and includes field research as well. For positions where advanced technical knowledge and/or leadership skills are required, a Ph.D. degree may be needed, which will take a few more years of study after a master’s degree and students must also complete a doctoral dissertation. For their dissertation, Ph.D. students usually need to do from 12 to 30 months of field research.

Applicants holding a bachelor’s degree in archaeology or anthropology, and who have work experience obtained via field school or internships, may find employment as laboratory assistants or technicians, but archaeologists and anthropologists definitely require a master’s degree to be able to advance to positions beyond entry-level.

What do Archaeologists do?

Archaeologists and anthropologists are studying the origin, the development, and the behavior of humans in general. They typically are engaged in researching and examining the cultures of various peoples. They study the languages, the archaeological relics and characteristics of these people at all sorts of locations throughout the world. Most of these professionals work at research organizations, museums, universities and colleges, consulting firms, government agencies, or private corporations. It could also well be that the world of technology and engineering is more fit for you, who knows.

Archaeologists and anthropologists usually are collecting all sorts of information through observations, documents, or interviews, and often will be developing methods to collect data for a specific or project or specialty. They will be recording and managing all their field observations, and analyze laboratory samples, data, or other information in order to reveal patterns about human origins, culture, and life.

They often need to plan research assignments to be able to test hypotheses and answer questions regarding interactions between culture and nature, and they will prepare and present reports about their research findings. They also will frequently be asked to give their view on possible cultural impacts of policies, products, or programs.

There are anthropologists who research and study the cultural and social impact of present-day problems such as poverty, natural disasters, overpopulation, and warfare, while other anthropologists are studying prehistoric data and the human evolution. Today, we can see an increasing number of these specialists working for companies while carrying out market research to study specific product demand by specific social or cultural groups. They can use, for example, their professional techniques and anthropological background to collect all sorts of data on how a certain product is being used by a particular demographic group. If you wish to see if this field may be right for you, you can take a career quiz for free!

What do Archaeologists use?

The majority of archaeologists and anthropologists are using modern technologies and sophisticated tools to perform their tasks, and though the tools and equipment they use may vary depending on tasks and specialties, they usually include, besides excavating and geophysical tools and equipment, highly specialized laboratory equipment, state-of-the-art statistical and database software, and specific geographic info systems. Archaeologists usually specialize in a specific geographic period, area, or objects (for example underwater sites or animal remains).

Main types of anthropologists:

Biological anthropologists

Biological anthropologists are also referred to as physical anthropologists, and they are researching the human species evolution. These specialists are looking for evidence of early human life, they will analyze genetics and study primates, they often are examining all sorts of human biological variations, and they study and analyze in what way biology and culture have influence on each other. Some biological anthropologists study human remains discovered at archeological sites in order to learn about population demographics, or to discover factors that these populations were affected by, such as disease and nutrition. Some can also be found working as forensic anthropologists at legal or medical settings where they need to analyze and identify genetic material and skeletal remains.

Cultural anthropologists

Cultural anthropologists are studying the cultures, customs, and social lives of specific groups. They usually examine and research specific social patterns, practices, and processes in areas that may range from remote villages to contemporary and/or industrialized urban centers. Cultural anthropologists frequently spend some time residing in the specific society they study to be able to collect data and information via interviews, observations, and/or surveys.

Linguistic anthropologists

Linguistic anthropologists are studying how various humans are communicating and in what way languages are influencing or shaping social life. They study and research non-verbal communications, the development and structures of languages as well as the differences between languages. They may also study what role languages play in several different cultures, in what way and how far cultural and social factors affect languages, and how languages influence people’s experiences. The majority of linguistic anthropologists are studying non-European languages, and they often learn these languages from native speakers.

Job outlook and income

Over the next decade, the employment possibilities are expected to increase a little above the overall outlook. The prospects are best for Ph.D. degree holders who have extensive fieldwork experience, and though employment opportunities will grow in consulting firms, business, or other non-traditional environments, applicants will face strong competition for positions as the number of positions remains small. In 2013, the average annual salary for archaeologists and anthropologists $57,880, but wages may vary by experience, concentration, and geographic factors.

 

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