Associate (ACIfA)

Associate-level archaeologist works with bones in a lab.

Associate (ACIfA) accreditation is open to those who:

  • have a high level of working knowledge within an area of historic environment practice
  • have considerable responsibility for undertaking work in a variety of situations using own judgement
  • have carried out complex work within an established framework
  • perceive the importance of their role within the team and the work they undertake
  • understand the ethical requirements of the Code of conduct and use them to guide and review own practice
  • uphold and promote the values of the Institute to work in the public interest
  • agree to be bound by CIfA's ethical Code of conduct
  • wish to reflect their knowledge and skills through professional accreditation

How to apply

To apply at ACIfA, you will need to provide two appropriate references, prepare a statement of competence about your employed or voluntary work and how your current role demonstrates the criteria in the competence matrix for technical and ethical competence (see below), and provide examples of work to support your statement. You can also include qualifications and a list of projects/publications/grey literature, but these are not required if you do not have any. 

Please read the information in the sections below carefully before applying. If you are unsure if you are ready to apply for ACIfA, please see Professional pathways to sign up to our useful bulletins or refer to the FAQ page.

Please membership [at] (get in touch) if you have any questions.

All applications are treated as confidential in line with CIfA’s Data Protection Policy.

To prepare for your application, please refer to the useful links below and information in the other sections to ensure you are familiar with the application process. You might need to familiarise yourself with the work of CIfA, our Standards and Code of conduct  to show that you understand and work in accordance with them.

Please use the links below to help you with your application and understanding ethical competence.

Application resources

  • Recorded guidance (YouTube) taking you through the application process (8.39 mins)
  • Performance criteria (ACIfA) - detailed guidance and examples you should include can be found here
  • Professional pathways -  unsure if you are ready to apply for ACIfA? Please sign up to our bulletins with hints and tips to apply (members only) or membership [at] (get in touch)

Ethics resources

Application deadlines

  • 29 January 2024 for 27 February meeting
  • 25 March for 16 April meeting
  • 17 June for 9 July meeting
  • 5 August for 3 September meeting
  • 18 November for 10 December meeting

You can upload your documents to the online application form. If you are a new applicant, we recommend using the statement template, which is a Word document you can come back to, as you cannot save the online form.

What to include

Personal details

Please provide your name, job title, post nominals where relevant, and contact details in the online form. 


In order to help the Validation Committee understand more about your professionalism, your understanding of the CIfA Code of conduct and your determination and ability to comply with it, we ask for two references to support your application. 

You can provide referees' contact details in the online application form. We will contact referees on receipt of your application or you can upload pre-written references to the online form, which will speed up the process. Referees should complete the CIfA reference template.

We advise discussing your application with your employer (where relevant) to ensure they can provide a supportive reference for your application.

ACIfA applicants should

  • use their current or most recent employer.
  • provide a second referee who is aware of your knowledge and skills and can comment on your current or most recent work - e.g. a current or former supervisor. If you have only worked in one organisation you can provide two referees from the same workplace.
  • Your second referee can also be someone external to your employer - e.g. a specialist, local planning archaeologist, a funding body such as HLF or a volunteer from a community group or a CIfA special interest group for example.  They should not be related to you or a client as this is considered a conflict of interest.


  • do not have to be CIfA accredited. However, individual members and those working for Registered Organisations are preferable since it helps if they understand our work and accreditations.
  • must be familiar with your role and the work you are using as evidence in your statement. They should be able to comment on the quality of your current work and your professionalism.
  • are given two weeks to return their reference. Missing or late references are the most common reason for delays to application - please contact your referees in advance to ensure that they can provide you with a reference within two weeks of submitting your application.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the references are returned in time, although CIfA will contact referees for missing references and inform you as soon as possible if your application is awaiting responses from referees.

The Validation committee reserves the right to request additional references, if required, to reach a decision about your application. This is usually in cases where a reference is not current or does not include enough information to assist the committee in reaching a decision.

ACIfA applicants must provide a statement outlining their employed or voluntary roles and say how their current role demonstrates the four areas of the competence matrix, see below. It is the most important part of your application as it informs the Validation committee about how your skills and experience demonstrate the criteria and helps them reach a decision.

You can use the Statement of competence template to upload or write directly into the boxes in the online form. Please note that incomplete new applications online cannot be saved and returned to.

For further information on how the competence categories apply in different areas of practice, please see our supporting specialist competence matrices.These can be used alongside the main competence matrix to see how your work fits into the criteria and help write your statement of competence.

Employed or voluntary roles

Please give detailed information about your role and responsibilities for your current and most recent roles over the last two years. Use each heading of the competence matrix (below) as a guide. You should cover how you demonstrate the four areas - knowledge, autonomy, coping with complexity and perception of professional context - giving specific examples. You may find it easier to give an example of a project you have done from beginning to end.

Detailed guidance and examples of what you should include can be found in the performance criteria (ACIfA) (weblink)

For any roles you’ve undertaken longer than two years ago, please give a brief description of the responsibilities held, including any career breaks where relevant.

We also suggest you highlight within the statement the examples of work (see section below) you are providing to support your application.

If you have taken a career break, work part-time or have a portfolio career and can meet the evidence requirements to demonstrate competence in the four areas of the matrix, you are eligble to apply.

You can approach your statement of competence in different ways

  1. use the four areas of the competence matrix as headings, write something for each and describe a specific example of where you did this
  2. write it like a job application, describing your main responsibilities and how these fit into the four areas of the competence matrix using specific examples
  3. write about a specific piece of work or project in detail

Competence matrix for Associate (ACIfA)



Coping with complexity

Perception of professional context

High level of working and background knowledge relevant to area of historic environment practice. Demonstrates competence in a broad range of activities within that area, in accordance with relevant professional standards

Considerable responsibility for own work using own judgement and autonomy, in a wide variety of contexts, but within an established framework. Where relevant, may take responsibility for the work of others and/or the allocation of resources within an area of practice.

Copes with complex situations through deliberate analysis and planning. Most activities are complex and non-routine

Sees actions at least partly in terms of longer-term or wider goals

Understands the ethical requirements of the Code of conduct and uses them to guide and review own practice and, where applicable, that of others. Can recognise and resolve potential conflicts of interest within an established framework. Upholds and promotes the values of the Institute to work in the public interest


Qualifications (where relevant)

Please list any relevant qualifications, including title, University and date of completion and a brief outline of the areas covered. If you work in academia, please provide a more detailed outline. Please upload a copy of your certificates, where relevant.

If you do not hold any qualifications, you are still eligible to apply.

Additional relevant information

Please include any additional information that may be useful for the Validation committee to take into consideration when assessing your application. A job description or CV can be uploaded to the online form but you must include a statement of competence (above).

If your experience has been gained outside the UK please include some background information about how the profession operates in that country and how your role fits within the profession.

List of projects/publications/grey literature

Please list any relevant projects, publications or grey literature from your work in the last 2 years in the statement template or online form. Where work is co-authored or the authors not defined, please indicate which part(s) you were responsible for. You can also highlight those you are including as your examples of work.

If you do not have any publications, you are still eligible to apply.

ACIfA applicants should provide a minimum of three examples of work, ideally the best, most complex examples and those that will support your current role and what you say in your statement to help demonstrate the criteria. Where you have mentioned specific examples in your statement, please include those.

These should be recent examples preferably from within the last two years and can be co-authored, please indicate your contribution.  This is not limited to reports or finalised/published work, but can be many different types (see list below). 

You can upload up to five examples to the online application form (less than 6MB in size). For larger files, please use a file sharing service such WeTransfer and share this with membership [at] All material will be treated as confidential under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), only shared with the Validation committee and deleted after the application process is complete.

Please note CIfA’s official language is English, therefore if your experience has been gained outside the UK, we are not able to translate examples of work for assessment.

Suggestions for suitable examples of work include, but are not limited to:

  • project briefs and specifications
  • HER audits
  • environmental assessments
  • condition surveys, management plans
  • portfolios of graphics-based work
  • individual illustrations and/or plans - please include the reports they are from
  • survey data
  • finds/environmental strategies or reports
  • post-excavation assessments
  • project designs or funding applications
  • outlines of archaeological or other relevant courses which you have taught
  • fieldwork reports (geophysics, landscape survey, building/survey recording, excavation, evaluation, characterisation)
  • examples of edited work
  • published works or journals
  • presentations you have compiled and delivered, videos of toolbox talks and site meetings that you lead on, where appropriate
  • forensic reports or statements; please ensure that you redact any identifying information even if permission has been given
  • displays created and the research behind it
  • emails giving advice to clients or members of the public
  • emails liaising with colleagues or specialists about a project

If you are unsure what to provide, please get in touch at membership [at]

For all upgrade applications we require a Professional Deveopment Plan (PDP) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) log from the last two years that can either be uploaded to the form or tick the box to say you have an online log with us through the CIfA website.

You can provide your companies' templates or you can use the CIfA templates found here.

If you are currently a Student or Affiliate member, or have had a recent career break, please provide what you can.

New ACIfA application fee is £30. Upgrade to ACIfA application fee is £20 (from 1 April 2024)

Application fees are payable via ClearAccept (we cannot take American Express) or by invoice and can be paid by the applicant or their employer (please check before applying).

Please note this is a non-refundable payment for the administration and assessment of your application and not the annual subscription fees.

Before submitting your application you will be asked to declare that the information you have provided is correct at the time of applying and if you have been subject to a professional conduct investigation.

If you pay through ClearAccept (replaced PayPal) you will not receive confirmation of your submission, we will contact you within a week to confirm.

If you have any problems when paying please select invoice in order to submit your application and email membership [at]

Applicants are encouraged to use the Statement of competence template (Word) template to apply.

Referees will be sent a CIfA reference template (Word) to complete.

Statement examples

These are statements from ACIfA applicants who have sucessfully applied.

ACIfA statement example_Heritage management (PDF)

ACIfA statement example_Project Officer (consultancy) (PDF)

Further guidance

Specialist competence matrices  - to assist seeing how your role might fit into the main matrix above if you work in a specialist area, you do not need to demonstrate all of these.

Application process timeline - what to expect after you have submitted your application

Apply now

Please make sure you have read the guidance above before you apply. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to membership [at] (get in touch).

Associate (ACIfA) - apply now