Career shift

Archaeology is a very popular choice for people looking to change career, but it can be difficult to translate existing skills into those that archaeological employers want. Taking time out to study archaeology at university is often not an option for career changers, but there are other routes into the profession.
On-site with Operation Nightingale and breaking ground heritage. © Wessex Archaeology
On-site with Operation Nightingale and breaking ground heritage. © Wessex Archaeology

You will have gained a lot of transferable skills from your previous employment and they underpin the technical skills which can be learnt once you are in work. Look at the job descriptions and person specifications for archaeological jobs and note those skills and competencies you already have, such as being a confident communicator or having excellent IT/media skills.

See our pages on employer training schemes and learn more about how to join CIfA. We have streamlined and improved the joining process, so if you have looked at applying in the past, please go back and have another look – you may find considerable change and more assistance. Once you are a CIfA member, you can sign up to Professional Pathways to receive bulletins with extra information about progression through CIfA’s professional grades.

Employers are seeing the benefit of diversifying entry routes. Some have developed structured employer training schemes, are using Traineeships and are taking on apprentices to increase staff numbers. It is always worth contacting archaeology companies directly to ask if they offer training for non-archaeology graduates. Don’t be put off if you don’t get a response first time or get a rejection from a particular company.

Take every opportunity for networking, volunteering and taking part in training workshops where you are able. As an Affiliate member of CIfA you will be able to take advantage of our CPD opportunities and a weekly jobs and training mailing. We also run regular break-time and evening discussion sessions to combine the networking of live events with archaeological topics, helping people keep in touch. Dates for upcoming break-time discussions are outlined in our events calendar.

Free and low-cost training is also available through Historic England or FAME.

Useful links