Information for future archaeologists

What is archaeology?

Archaeologists explore the human story through the effect people have on the world and the evidence they’ve left behind.

Why choose archaeology?

Archaeologists are skilled and respected professionals, used to working in multidisciplinary teams on projects that affect the historic environment. Archaeologists need to be creative and innovative, as well as practical.

​Archaeology is a global profession that crosses borders and disciplines. Careers in the historic environment span a wide variety of workplaces and could be in archaeological excavation, research, museums, national parks, universities, media and local government, to name a few. A career in archaeology could also take you around the world.

Where do archaeologists work?

Many archaeologists in the UK work within the planning system that controls the development of land and buildings. These means they are needed at all levels to plan, project manage and carry out archaeological work as part of construction projects and big infrastructure projects like roads, railways, and pipelines. They are also needed to look after and interpret the evidence that is found during excavations, so that people can know about what happened in the past.


© Wessex Archaeology
© Wessex Archaeology


Stuart Prior and Alice Roberts next to reconstructed house at Butser Ancient Farm.
© University of Bristol

Archaeologists work in many areas. They may be involved in

  • planning applications for new development and transport plans
  • care of listed buildings and scheduled monuments
  • minerals extraction, environmental impact assessments, heritage management or conservation plans
  • landscape, urban, infrastructure and architectural design
  • construction, housing and regeneration
  • tourism strategies and local economic development plans
  • projects for universities, regional or national agencies
  • planning policy and guidance development
  • school and community projects
  • PR or media projects, film and television programmes
  • forensic investigation

How much will I get paid and where do I find out about jobs?

Salaries start from £21,100. With experience and increased responsibility, you can expect a salary of £29,123 to £31,561. At senior level, your salary can range from £36,552 to £40,276, and higher for consultants and managers. Apprentices should be paid above the statutory rate.

To find out more about where to find jobs and how to apply for them look at Jobs information & training (JIST).

A researcher examines an old document in an archive.
© Wessex Archaeology

How do I train?

There are different ways to train to work in archaeology and these include

  • university degrees
  • apprenticeships
  • L3 Certificate in archaeological practice (NVQ)
  • Government training schemes, such as Traineeships

You can find more information in 'Skills and training' within the right hand menu on the main page.


Archaeologist undertake recording on an archaeological site.
© Wessex Archaeology

What other jobs are open to those with archaeology training and qualifications?

Archaeology is a versatile option for those wanting to gain skills that employers find attractive, such as project management, teamwork, communication, IT, problem solving and the ability to be creative and analytical. The skills that archaeologists develop are highly transferable. Archaeology graduates work in a surprising large number and varied range of job roles, including teaching, local and national government, management and senior management, acting, and TV/media.

Useful links

  • About a career in archaeology - download our leaflet with more information about career opportunities in archaeology
  • The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is an independent charity that supports and promotes archaeology for all. They have branches across the country that run events and they list opportunities for volunteer and community archaeology. You can find about opportunities to get involved on their 'Ways to get into archaeology' page.
  • Archaeology Scotland is an educational charity inspiring people to discover, explore, care for and enjoy Scotland’s archaeological heritage.
  • Historic Environment Scotland have created Careers Unpacked which explores careers in the historic environment sector, to help you make informed and realistic career choices, and discover the different career pathways open to you.
  • University Archaeology Day is an annual event held in person and online. Young people and parents have the opportunity to talk to university departments and hear inspiring talks from archaeologists.
  • Discover! Creative careers have brought together careers information and opportunities from creative organisations in one explorable directory.
  • University Archaeology UK (UAUK) represents the departments of Archaeology in UK universities.