Practitioner (PCIfA)

Practitioner (PCIfA) grade accreditation is open to those who:

  • have a good working knowledge within an area of historic environment practice
  • have some responsibility for undertaking work using own judgement
  • have carried out some complex work under general supervision
  • perceive the importance of each role within a team
  • agree to be bound by CIfA's ethical Code of conduct
  • wish to reflect their knowledge and skills through professional accreditation

If you are unsure if you are ready to apply for PCIfA, please see our Professional pathways webpage.

How to apply

To apply at PCIfA, you will need to provide two appropriate references and prepare a statement of competence about your employed or voluntary work and how your current role demonstrates the criteria in the competence matrix. You can also include qualifications, a list of publications and/or examples of work but these are not required if you do not have any.

Please read the information in the headings below carefully before applying. Please refer to the FAQ page for further details. There is also a section below called Further guidance and example statements.

If you have recently graduated with a CIfA accredited degree you need to apply in the same way using the accredited degree matrix and guidance.

All applications are treated as confidential in line with CIfA’s Data Protection Policy. If you are unsure of how to approach your application, please membership [at] (contact us).

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 them to the online form, which will speed up the process. Referees should complete the CIfA reference template (See templates section, below) commenting on your work with specific examples to support your application in relation to the criteria which you base your application.

PCIfA applicants should

  • use their current or most recent employer.
  • provide a second referee who is aware of your knowledge and skills - e.g. a current or former supervisor. If you have only worked in one organisation you can provide two referees from the same workplace. They should not be related to you or a client as this is considered a conflict of interest.

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


  • 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.

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 making a decision in full.

PCIfA applicants must provide a statement outlining their education (where relevant) and employed or voluntary roles and say how their current role demonstrates the four areas of the competence matrix. You can include a list of publications here too (where relevant).

The information you provide using the Statement of competence template to upload or in the boxes on the online form is the most important part of your application and is the primary method the committee use to assess how you meet the criteria. Please note that incomplete new applications online cannot be saved and returned to.

CIfA have developed a suite of specialist competence matrices to assist applicants who work in specialist areas and 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.

If you have recently graduated with a CIfA accredited degree you need to apply in the same way using the accredited degree matrix and guidance.

Education (where relevant)

Please list your degree qualification, 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 for archaeology and related subjects. 

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

Employed or voluntary roles

For each role you have held please give the job title, company name, start and end dates, and a brief description of the role and the responsibilities held. Ensure you start with your most recent role and include your entire career, including any career breaks where relevant.

For your current and most recent roles over the last two years (where relevant), please give detailed information about your main responsibilities, focusing on what you do as the main part of your role, and cover how you demonstrate the four areas of the competence matrix - knowledge, autonomy, coping with complexity and perception of context. 

You can approach your statement of competence in different ways

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

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 publications/grey literature (where relevant)

Please list any publications and/or grey literature over the last two years, where relevant. If you wrote or collaborated on a specific section, please indicate the page numbers. If you have a separate list, you can upload this to the online form.

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

Special cases

Please note if you have taken a career break, moved to another area of work, specialism, or recently started your own business you will need to be able to demonstrate the grade applied for across all areas to be granted accreditation. This may mean that you will need to wait until you have gained further knowledge and skills to do this.

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. These must be accompanied by a statement of competence (see above).

PCIfA applicants do not need to provide any examples of work, but we encourage you to do so where possible. These should be more recent examples that support your statement, preferably undertaken over the last two years.

You can upload up to five examples to the online application form (less than 6MB in size) or email them using a file sharing system (We Transfer or Google Docs) to membership [at] All material will be treated as confidential under the UK Data Protection Act 2018.

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

  • skills passport (eg BAJR or Oxford Archaeology)
  • project briefs and specifications
  • HER audits
  • environmental assessments
  • portfolios of graphics-based work
  • survey data
  • finds/environmental strategies or reports
  • post-excavation assessments
  • fieldwork reports (geophysics, landscape survey, building/survey recording, excavation, evaluation, characterisation)
  • published works or journals
  • presentations you have compiled and delivered
  • displays created and the research behind it

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.

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

New PCIfA application fee is £15. Upgrade to PCIfA application fee is £10.

Application fees are payable via PayPal 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 previously been subject to a professional conduct investigation.

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

Applicants are encouraged to use the Statement of competence template (Word) template to help their application.

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