Salary benchmarking for archaeology 2024

Salary benchmarking for archaeology 2024
CIfA has changed its approach to addressing the issues of low pay in archaeology and will be working on a salary benchmarking project. This is the result of a long-standing policy decision by the Board to stop making minimum salary recommendations. We had been exploring alternative options, including salary benchmarking, with sector partners for some years. The plan, developed in partnership with the Advisory Council, was to continue minimum salary recommendations for a transitional period alongside a benchmarking approach. However, having taken legal advice, the Board felt that it was necessary to implement the change immediately. We regret the lack of warning and background information that we were able to give members, and the distress and confusion this has caused.

What is salary benchmarking?
Salary benchmarking is a process of gathering anonymised, aggregated salary data for a range of job roles within an industry. It can be used to compare salaries for different roles within a profession, track how salaries have changed over time or in relation to inflation or other benchmarks and compare salaries for roles in one profession against similar roles in equivalent professions. Salary benchmarking provides

  • information for employees and prospective employees to help them judge how advertised roles compare to average salaries in the profession
  • information for employers when designing and advertising job roles to ensure that salaries can attract appropriately competent applicants
  • one of a number of tools used by trade unions in workplace negotiations where a union is recognised, or workplace agreements where there is no trade union recognition
  • an advocacy tool to champion better paid role

Salary benchmarking is used by many other professional organisations including the Museums Association, the Chartered Institute for Ecologists and Environmental Managers, the Institute of Environmental Managers and Assessors, Royal Institute of British Architects and others.

How will this work for archaeology?
Each year, salary data will be gathered from advertised job roles over the previous year to give salary ranges for a variety of job roles/titles, highlighting minimum, maximum and average salaries for those roles. These figures can then be used to compare with similar data from other professional bodies, using the competence requirements for accreditation to ensure we are comparing like with like.

The difference between this and our previous approach is that the benchmarking will be based on advertised salaries over the previous year rather than using a range of factors to recommend an appropriate minimum salary for the coming year. Using a benchmarking process similar to that of other professions will allow us to compare salaries in archaeology with these professions, track trends over time, and provide commentary in the context of inflation, the market for archaeological services and other external benchmarks like the Real Living Wage, the Minimum Income Standard and average UK salaries. Salary benchmarking will be richer in information, provide a better evidence base, and focus on well paid as well as poorly paid roles.

We plan to carry out data analysis over the spring and early summer and publish initial results in August with a final report released in the autumn.

In line with CIfA’s policy on pay, we will use the salary benchmarking work to highlight the issue of low pay in archaeology and the impact it has on the sector’s ability to recruit, retain and motivate skilled archaeologists and to increase workforce diversity. We will also use the data to track trends in pay in the short term following the removal of minimum salary recommendations and in the longer term in the context of the external benchmarks listed above.