Join CIfA - FAQ

This FAQ resource answers many of the common questions we are asked about joining CIfA as an individual. However, if you have a specific question please contact us at membership@archaeologists.net and we will be happy to help!

Please note we are updating the application forms and guidance to include ethical competence and new accredited applications can be submitted from 1 May. Please see our Application changes FAQs

Who can join?

We welcome applications to join CIfA from people who are involved in the study and care of the historic environment, employed or voluntary, regardless of academic background or location. Our members represent the full diversity of the discipline. Your do not have to work in the UK to join, but you need to be able to demonstrate your technical knowledge and ethical suitability to our Validation committee.

Joining CIfA means you will support CIfA’s aims and work in accordance with the Code of conduct, policies and Standards of the Institute; these are binding on all accredited members and emphasise your duty to adhere to professional and ethical standards. 

Students and those who do not yet meet the professional criteria may join as non-accredited members and support CIfA's aims and work.

Please see our Membership benefits page for more information.

Overseas applicants are welcome, but we do require examples of work to be submitted in English (CIfA's official language).

If you are applying from Germany, please see our CIfA Deutschland group and Mitglied werden pages.

No, a qualification is not compulsory. The application is based on demonstrated technical competence.

You will need to ensure you have enough skills and knowledge to be able to demonstrate the four areas of the competence matrix, this might mean you have to wait until you have gained more experience before you apply. 

If you hold a CIfA accredited degree, you need to apply the same way as all applicants at Practitioner (PCIfA) grade and can refer to the specific guidance and matrix here. You can check the list of current accredited degrees here and you need to submit a copy of your certificate when you apply.

Yes, students and those who do not yet meet the professional accreditation criteria may join as non-accredited members. Non-accredited Student or Affiliate members can upgrade to a professionally accredited grade in the future.

Students can maintain their membership for an additional year after graduation before changing to Affiliate or upgrade.

Yes, volunteers who can demonstrate the four areas of the competence matrix criteria can apply for professional accreditation. Usually this would be Practitioner (PCIfA) grade depending on how often you work as a volunteer on a site and because you might not have any supporting examples of work. 

Volunteers might find that they can explain their experience from across more than one specialist matrix, for example finds, field archaeology and/or museum archaeology, but these are to inform the main matrix which is what the committee use to assess all applications and you will need to demonstrate the criteria across all four areas to be awarded that grade. 

Volunteers and those who do not yet meet the professional accreditation criteria may join as non-accredited Affiliate members and can upgrade to a professionally accredited grade in the future if you wish to.

Yes, if you have recently resumed working in the historic environment after a career break for any reason you can apply for professional accreditation. The committee will need to see evidence that supports the four areas of the competence matrix criteria relevant to your current role. This means you may need to carry out some work and/or training before you apply in order to be able to provide enough evidence for your application to be successful. 

Yes, if you have recently been promoted to a new role at a higher level or started undertaking work in a specialist area alongside your main work you can apply for professional accreditation. The committee will need to see evidence that supports the four areas of the competence matrix criteria in your new role or across all areas of your work. This means you may need to carry out some work and/or training before you apply in order to be able to provide enough evidence for your application to be successful. 

Making an accredited application

Applications for professional accreditation are assessed by CIfA's Validation Committee. The Validation committee consists of a group of at least five peers, all of whom are accredited members of the Institute. They consider all accredited applications to ensure consistency throughout.

From 1 May, we introduced ethics to the criteira and this is included in the statement of competence and supporting evidence for PCIfA and ACIfA applicants, see guidnace links below, and for MCIfA this will also involve a professional review interiew. Please check the deadline page and MCIfA guidance page for further information.

Being awarded professional accreditation is a significant achievement. Every application is assessed on its own merits and demonstrated technical competence and ethical suitability. The Validation Committee assesses applications using a scoring system based on the CIfA competence matrix and informed by the supporting evidence you provide (e.g. references, Statement of competence, examples of work).

The process is designed to be transparent, if you provide enough evidence to demonstrate the grade you will be successful.

CIfA offers three grades of professional accreditation: Practitioner (PCIfA), Associate (ACIfA) and Member (MCIfA). See our pages below for more information about how to apply at each grade:

You should also view our competence matrix, which will help you determine which grade you can demonstrate through a statement of competence, two referees and examples of work. There are also specialist matrices on this page that can help you to see where you fit in if you work in a specialism and these help the Validation committee to assess applications too.

New applicants are not able to save the form and return to it. Please complete the statement of competence document before applying and upload it when requested. Please make sure you have everything ready (see below) before you start the online form.

Upgrading members are able save the form as long as they are logged into the CIfA website.

When we receive an application we will request references by email, but it makes the process quicker and easier if you can provide your references with your application, please upload them to the online form when requested. 

We allow two weeks for references to be returned, please ensure your referees are available to write one in this time. Late references are the most common cause of delay when processing applications.

All applicants need to complete the online form with their personal details, referee contact details, statement (Word doc or in the form) and, where relevant, their qualifications, list of publications and examples of work. 

Examples of work should preferably be from within the last 2 years, to support the application (minimum 3 for ACIfA and 5 for MCIfA). PCIfA applicants are not expected to provide any examples, but are encouraged to do so.

Examples of work can uploaded into the online application form (up to 6MB per document) or shared using a file sharing system (share to membership [at] archaeologists.net). Please do not send hard copies.

Applicants upgrading from an accredited grade need to provide their Personal Development Plan (PDP) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) log, this can be in the CIfA templates or your own documents or tick the box if you have submitted it online through the CIfA website. If you are a non-accredited member or have had a career break for any reason please submit what you can.

You do not need a qualification to apply, but if you do have a BA, MA or PhD in a relevant subject please provide a copy of them - these can be attached to the online form in the Qualification section.

If you have lost or mislaid your certificates please let us know in the statement document or online box when you apply. 

 

Yes. While our online application is designed to improve accessibility, other formats are available on request. If you have any issues accessing information on our website, or if you have comments and observations to make our application process more accessible, please contact us at membership [at] archaeologists.net.

CIfA is committed to promoting equality and diversity for all its members and seeks to be as accessible and inclusive as possible. Please see our equal opportunities policy (PDF).

This can vary, depending on what you need to include and how much you want to write. You should make time to familiarise yourself with our application procedures. We estimate preparation times of 1-2 hours for Practitioner (PCIfA), 1-3 hours for Associate (ACIfA) and 2-3 hours for Member (MCIfA).

It can be useful to write your statement first and see which of your work examples best support this. However, it is also possible to write your statement directly into the online form (although please be aware that new applicants cannot save and return to the online application form).

The online application itself takes around 15 minutes if your information, payment details and documents are prepared and at hand. 

Application deadline dates can be found here under the apply online buttons. 

Please note we are updating the application forms and guidance to include ethical competence and new accredited applications can be submitted from 1 May.

Please see our Application changes FAQs

When your application is processed we benchmark it to check it includes everything the committee would expect to see and will request additional information if needed. This helps to speed up the process and avoid defers from one meeting to another. 

You do not need to reapply through the application form again, but can email the additional information or referee details to the staff member who emailed you.

Rejoining CIfA and NVQ fast-track

Yes, we welcome previous members, and there are no fees associated with a rejoining application. Please see the 'Rejoining CIfA' information on our Apply Online page for more details.

Those holding an NVQ level 3 in Archaeological Practice and a CIfA Apprenticeship are eligible for fast-track access to our Practitioner (PCIfA) grade. Please see the 'NVQ or Apprenticeship fast-track applications' information on our Apply online page for more details.

Further guidance, fees and decisions

Our membership team are happy to help with any queries regarding the application process - please contact us at membership [at] archaeologists.net. We are also eager to make the application process as accessible as possible, so please contact us if you have any related issues or suggestions.

We would also recommend speaking to any friends or colleagues who have already have CIfA accreditation about their application experiences.

There is a non-refundable application fee to process applications at all grades, please see individual accreditation pages as these vary.

Accredited members pay an annual subscription fee determined by income. Concessionary rates are available. Non-accredited members pay a set annual fee.

See our Apply Online page for deadlines and meeting dates.

Practitioner (PCIfA) applications can be submitted at any time and are assessed more regularly, usually at the end of each month. If you are applying to gain a PQP CSCS card, please allow up to eight weeks for your application to be reviewed.

Associate (ACIfA) applications are assessed regularly throughout the year at a Validation committee meeting (6 per year).

Member (MCIfA) applications will go to the next professional review interview in September or March and be assessed at the following committee meeting.

We will email you with confirmation that we have received your application and ask you for any additional information you may need to provide. Once we have received your references, your application will be reviewed at the next Validation committee meeting. We will email you with the committees decision as soon as possible after that.

If you do not agree with the Validation Committee's decision, you can submit an appeal. The Membership Appeals Committee will meet to review if the process used to reach the decison was transparent in line with the guidance and regulations. See our CIfA Membership Regulations (PDF file) for more details.

CIfA abides by the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) (May 2018) and you can read our GDPR policy here under the Policy statements heading, which explains how we process and keep your personal data.