NVQ in Archaeological Practice

Watch our short videos from two of our NVQ candidates about their experiences**

Read our article celebrating 10 years of the NVQ in Archaeological Practice

The CIfA NVQ Assessment Centre is pleased to be affiliated to the Awarding Organisation, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Please see below for general information about the qualification. If you are interested in registering as a candidate, would like to support your employees to complete an NVQ or require any other specific information, please contact Anna Welch (anna.welch [at] archaeologists.net) or Kate Geary (kate.geary [at] archaeologists.net).

What is an NVQ in Archaeological Practice?

The Qualification in Archaeological Practice is a vocational qualification developed by the Archaeology Training Forum which has been approved by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

National Occupation Standards (NOS) NOS are the building blocks of NVQs and describe good practice in particular areas of work. They provide managers with a tool for workforce management and quality control and can be used to write job descriptions or to identify skills needs and plan training. Our competence matrix is also mapped to this.

How is an NVQ assessed?

  • Vocational qualifications are assessed mainly in the workplace.

  • Candidates register with the CIfA assessment centre and, working with an assessor, submit evidence to show they have met the requirements of the core units and the options they have chosen.

  • Prior learning can be accredited through the submission of work completed prior to registration and there is no time limit for completion.

Who can register for an NVQ?

The qualification is available to everyone working in archaeology, whether on a paid or a voluntary basis, or anyone seeking to develop a career in archaeology who can gather appropriate evidence.

What are the benefits?

The qualification will enable archaeologists to demonstrate that they have particular sets of skills, competencies or experience which will be of benefit when applying for jobs, promotion or CIfA accredited membership at Practitioner grade. It will also provide a means of accrediting informal training and on-the-job learning.

All CIfA training initiatives offered in the future are structured around National Occupational Standards enabling them to contribute towards the qualification.

For career archaeologists the NVQ

  • is a well respected qualification among employers
  • accredits your skills, knowledge and ability
  • enables you to develop transferable skills
  • identifies your potential and provides opportunities for development
  • helps you to understand employers’ requirements
  • increases your confidence

For employers, offering or supporting the NVQ

  • helps you to attract, retain and motivate staff
  • raises performance
  • attests a job candidate’s capability
  • ensures employees are up to date
  • demonstrates a commitment to training and standards (particularly useful if you are a Registered Organisation or thinking of becoming one)
  • is ‘on the job’ – so minimises down time
  • provides the structure to deliver quality training

For volunteers and other professionals, the NVQ

  • is a recognised qualification across professions
  • has no age or time limits to complete
  • provides access to specialist knowledge and skills
  • is a flexible route to qualification
  • can provide a springboard into further study
  • qualification to do arch work

How much does it cost?

To undertake the Level 3 it currently costs £1295 per person, which covers registration, assessment and certification. This can be split into instalments as outlined in the application form below.


Unique Learner Numbers (ULNs)
This is a 10 digit number given to candidates of GCSEs and A-levels in the UK from 2008 onwards, you can find it on your certificates. We request candidate's ULNs in order to produce a certificate and when you sign the application form this gives your permission for CIfA to share your personal details with SQA for the purposes of registration, assessment and certification only. If you do not have one we will provide you with a ULN during registration.

For futher details please see the factsheet for learners

Becoming an NVQ assessor

We need experienced professionals to train as assessors so that we can assess across the wide range of archaeological specialisms. If you are interested in becoming an assessor, or would like more information about the Qualification please email kate.geary [at] archaeologists.net.

For any queries please contact anna.welch@archaeologists.net