Jobs in Archaeology

Pair of little blue bottles keeping each other company through the ages. They've probably sat side-by-side since the 1940s.

Somebody asked me recently about jobs in archaeology, so I thought I’d list a few links and tips. To find jobs, check these sources:

These aren’t the only places to look, just the most used. Obviously, USA Jobs will be for agency or government work, but the other two will have a mix though they’re mostly commercial Cultural Resource Management companies.

Working for an agency is noticeably different than working for a private company, even though we’re often dealing with the same laws when it comes to managing cultural resources. Working in an agency myself (Forest Service), I can say that it seems as though there’s more of a desire to find cultural remains. With commercial companies, there is at leas some hope that finds will be minimal and a survey will complete at or under bid. A lot of sites found means a lot of additional time on the ground if they were not anticipated.

Another great source of information are a few bloggers:

Bill White at Succinct Research, who has several tools for job hunting in the CRM / archaeology. Look for his Resume Writing for Archaeologists and Small Archaeology Project Management: How to run cultural resource management projects without busting your budget.  I’ve found both to be very useful and well worth the few bucks to get the Kindle versions (which you can read on your computer without a Kindle). Bill also just came out with Becoming an Archaeologist: Crafting a Career in Cultural Resource Management, which I haven’t purchased yet, but may be very soon.

The Field Archaeologist’s Survival Guide is also an excellent read, which I highly recommend. It’s written by Chris Webster, who also manages the Archaeology Podcast Network and is a culmination of information he and others have given in his CRM Archaeology Podcast.

Incidentally, one of his frequent co-hosts is Doug Rocks-MacQueen who has a blog that covers many, many topics relative to careers in archaeology: Doug’s Archaeology. I highly recommend it as well.

So, what are my personal tips and advice?

Work for an agency. I think you stand the best chance of a decent wage and promotion opportunity when compared with the private sector, though I’m not as sure about academia. I’m also not an expert on the private sector (CRM) since I’ve not actually worked it, but I do have many friends and acquaintances who have and I base my opinions on what they’ve told me over the years.

CRM firms like to spend as little as possible to get the most bang for their buck. Which is understandable. They’re a business after all. Agency work (federal, state, local) can be frustrating (bureaucracy and all), but the work is more or less stable and promotion opportunities are clearer. You also seem to be paid according to your education and experience.

Agencies, however, can be hard to break into as a permanent employee. So making your bones in the private sector first might not be a bad way to start.

About Carl Feagans 398 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Leave a Reply