Information for careers professionals

What is an archaeologist?

Archaeologists explore the human story through the effect people have on the world and the evidence they’ve left behind. [please suggest alternative/extra wording]


Why choose archaeology as a career?

There is a high demand for archaeologists in the UK and archaeology is included in the government’s shortage occupation list. Many archaeologists in the UK work within the planning system so are need at all levels to plan, project manage and carry out archaeological work as part of infrastructure and construction projects. 

Accredited 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. The heritage environment sector spans a wide variety of workplaces so a career 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?

Archaeologists work in a wide variety of roles and organisations including local authorities, environmental organisations, higher education, government heritage and environmental consultancies, national parks, heritage and culture organisations, museums, construction sector, tourism, research, television and media, forensic investigation and community projects.


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

Archaeology is an attractive 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, and varied, number of job roles including teaching, local and national government, management and senior management, acting, and TV/media.


What are the routes in?

University degree – there are no standard A-level subjects required to study archaeology at universities and its also important to understand that not all archaeology programmes are the same.  You and your child should discuss the different types of jobs and workplaces that a degree in archaeology might lead to and understand what has sparked their interest in the subject.  Archaeology is a subject that can incorporate all STEM subjects so some programmes will be arts based, some science based, some very practical and others theory and research led.  You can search for archaeology courses offered by different universities on the UCAS website and find out what grades, points and subjects are required for individual courses.

A degree in archaeology is valued by many employers because it combines arts, science and the social sciences, includes IT and ‘soft skills’ like giving presentations and team working. There are many combinations of joint degrees which include archaeology.  If your child is planning a career in archaeology you should look for degrees which have a high proportion of archaeological studies and practical training.  You can find information about CIfA/UAUK accredited degree programmes here [LINK to accredited degree page]


Apprenticeships- apprenticeships are a new route to a career in archaeology and the heritage environment for those who decide not to study archaeology at university.  There are two which are aimed at school leavers:

L3 Archaeological Technician, which will teach skills to provide practical support to Archaeologists undertaking archaeological Investigation

L4 Historic Environment Advice Assistant, which will train people to provide technical, research and logistical support to Historic Environment professionals.

Apprenticeship opportunities are offered by employers and will be advertised on the GOVUK website.  You can find out more information here [LINK to apprenticeship page].  


What is the pay?

Wages in archaeology are rising and there are plenty of job opportunities. Starting salaries can range from £19,853 to £20,926. 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 well above the statutory rate.

To get an idea of the range of jobs being advertised and the wages they command look at CIfA’s online adverts and the BAJR website.


Useful links

The British Council for Archaeology is an independent charity, which supports and promotes archaeology for all.  They have branches across the country which run events and they list opportunities for volunteer and community archaeology.

Archaeology Scotland  is an educational charity inspiring people to discover, explore, care for and enjoy Scotland’s archaeological heritage.

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.

State of the archaeological market 2019