Archeology Careers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 22, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Archeology is the study of human history based on the analysis and interpretation of physical items left behind by previous generations. Those who have studied or practiced archeology normally have training in a number of related disciplines. This means if you have a background in archeology, or you are considering a job in archeology, there are a variety of career choices that may be open to you. In this article, we consider some of the career options you have within the field of archeology.

Benefits of choosing a career in archeology

There are a number of benefits to choosing a career in archeology. These include:

  • Travel opportunities: Some archeological careers offer the opportunity to travel to excavation sites all over the world. If you enjoy traveling, archeology is a fascinating way to visit different cultures and learn about the past.

  • Employment prospects: There are fewer archeologists in the job market compared to other professions such as law or medicine. This means you might find it easier to get a job as an archeologist or in a related field.

  • Mental and physical work: Many archeologists spend time at an excavation site digging up relics and manually cleaning them. This, along with the analysis and reporting that goes along with a find, makes the work challenging to both mind and body.

  • Educational contribution: Part of the archeologist's work is to uncover the past and help people understand the way previous generations and ancient civilizations lived. By doing this, you contribute to everyone's understanding of humanity.

  • Salary: Depending on your archeological career choice, you can earn a very respectable salary as an archeologist.

Related: How to Become an Archaeologist: Education Requirements and Steps

14 archeology careers

If you are interested in a career in archeology, here are 14 archeology careers for you to consider:

1. Geographic information system specialist

National average salary: $65,738 per year

Primary duties: A geographic information system (GIS) specialist collects geographic data and uses specialized software to help them collate and interpret that data to create maps. GIS specialists can use their skills to produce spatial data that an archeologist might use when mapping a dig site. Their job responsibilities include digitizing paper maps into data sets for analysis, creating reports based on geographical data and developing apps to present the data on websites.

Related: GIS Analyst Cover Letter Sample

2. Museum technician

National average salary: $16.98 per hour

Primary duties: Also known as a museum conservator, a museum technician manages artifacts in a museum for storage, research or display. This may involve restoring or maintaining pieces as well as authenticating, preserving and cataloging them. Museum technicians are responsible for a variety of materials including bones, fossils, textiles, paper or papyrus, artwork and books.

3. Field technician

National average salary: $18.57 per hour

Primary duties: Field technicians, or field supervisors, work on archeological sites excavating, putting artifacts into bags, drawing maps, taking photographs and recording information about finds. Field technicians are often freelance and have the opportunity to travel the world working at various sites. They work mainly outdoors and perform a certain amount of physical labor including digging, removing foliage and soil from finds and carrying and maintaining equipment.

4. Archeology professor

National average salary: $4,463 per month

Primary duties: An archeology professor works mainly in an academic setting as opposed to archeological sites, though they may conduct summer archeological expeditions while school is out. During the academic year, they are responsible for developing courses and exams, grading papers, delivering lectures and advising and mentoring students. Archeology professors may find work teaching one of a variety of related subjects such as ancient history, anthropology or religious studies. Depending on their schedule, an experienced archeology professor may also conduct research, especially if they are teaching at a four-year university since the teaching load is typically lighter.

5. Archeologist

National average salary: $67,678 per year

Primary duties: An archeologist, or project archeologist, is responsible for supervising archeological excavations and writing reports on the excavation project and what they found. Project archeologists may work for a Cultural Resource Management (CRM) company on a permanent, full-time basis. They often have prior experience as field technicians.

Related: What Is an Archaeologist? Definition, Job Duties and How to Become One

6. Heritage manager

National average salary: $69,337 per year

Primary duties: Heritage managers conserve and manage sites of national historical interest or significance. These sites include buildings, ancient monuments, museums and gardens or other landscapes. Their responsibilities include managing site budgets, creating publicity documents, recruiting and training staff, developing advertising to draw visitors and fundraising to increase revenue. A heritage manager might work for a museum, a privately-owned historical site or a charitable organization.

7. Principal investigator

National average salary: $64,631 per year

Primary duties: A principal investigator is similar to a project archeologist but with additional duties. These include preparing budgets, hiring an archeological crew, supervising laboratory analyses and writing proposals. Principal investigators normally work full-time for a Cultural Resource Management company, though they can be hired for short-term projects.

8. Archivist

National average salary: $73,144 per year

Primary duties: An archivist catalogs and preserves documents and other materials so they may be available for anyone to access who may have an interest in them. Their primary duties include evaluating material to determine its significance and how it may best be preserved, organizing and cataloging archived material, acquiring material to be archived and maintaining an archive database. Archivists usually work for historical sites or museums, though some may work for universities or government agencies.

9. Museum education officer

National average salary: $73,444 per year

Primary duties: A museum education officer is responsible for providing accurate information to museum visitors about the museum's exhibits. Museum education officers may give lectures to groups, conduct guided tours of the museum, conduct seminars on recent acquisitions and develop programs to help educate visitors in ways that are both informative and entertaining. While they mainly work for museums, museum education officers might also work for galleries or historic sites.

10. Cartographer

National average salary: $74,693 per year

Primary duties: A cartographer conducts fieldwork and gathers data to create and revise maps. The main responsibilities of a cartographer include collecting, evaluating and analyzing geographical data such as population densities and annual precipitation patterns, checking the accuracy of existing maps and designing new maps. Cartographers normally work for local or national governments, utility companies or commercial map makers.

11. Museum curator

National average salary: $79,673 per year

Primary duties: A museum curator is responsible for the acquisition, care and display of an institution's artifact collection. The primary duties of a museum curator include purchasing and organizing museum exhibits, identifying items, keeping records of items, arranging for restoration work and managing inquiries. Large museums may have more than one museum curator. Heritage centers might also hire museum curators to manage their collections.

Related: How to Become a Museum Curator: Step-by-Step Career Guide

12. Historian

National average salary: $83,413 per year

Primary duties: Historians are academic professionals who research, study and interpret documents and other historical sources. They may communicate their findings through articles, papers and books or through teaching and giving lectures. The job responsibilities of a historian include collecting historical information from archives, books and other sources, determining the significance of historical information through analysis and interpretation of data, creating historical narratives based on their research and working in an advisory capacity to people and organizations that need historical information. Most historians work in academic institutions where they teach and conduct research.

Related: How to Become a Historian: Necessary Education and Skill Requirements

13. Academic researcher

National average salary: $84,989 per year

Primary duties: Academic researchers conduct original, high-level investigation that contributes new knowledge in a particular subject area or develops and advances current scholarship on a subject. Their primary duties include conducting high-level research, sometimes in collaboration with other researchers, interpreting historical data and making detailed observations, writing papers and reports some of which might be for academic journals and managing their own travel expenses. Normally, universities and research institutes hire academic researchers.

14. Archeological lab director

National average salary: $101,028 per year

Primary duties: An archeological lab director has oversight over the processing of any artifacts recovered from an archeological dig, including cleaning, analysis and cataloging. The responsibilities of an archeological lab director include the setup, organization and maintenance of the lab, monitoring the quality of the work done by lab staff, helping to write archeological reports and submitting artifact samples for special analysis. Archeological lab directors normally work full time for a university or cultural research management company.

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