Questions About: Archaeology As A Career…

Where do archaeologists work?

Professional archaeologists work in a wide variety of settings.  Archaeologists are employed by federal and state government agencies,   museums and historic sites, colleges and universities, and engineering firms with cultural resource management divisions. Some archaeologists work as consultants or form their own companies.

The majority of archaeologists today are employed in cultural resource management, or CRM.  CRM companies are responsible for archaeology that is done to comply with federal historic preservation laws that protect archaeological sites.  Archaeologists employed in CRM firms may be hired as temporary field or laboratory assistants, or may be project managers or administrators .CRM archaeologists direct field and lab work, manage staff, and are responsible for writing reports and other publications to share the results of their surveys and excavations. CRM archaeologists may also be engaged in public education and outreach efforts to share the results of their work with the public through site, tours, brochures, and exhibits.

What do archaeologists DO?

Archaeologists do much more than “dig!” Archaeologists in federal, tribal and state government agencies are responsible for managing, protecting and interpreting archaeological sites on public land.  Working in museums, archaeological parks, or historic sites, archaeologists may manage collections of artifacts, work in education or public programming, or become administrators that manage programs relating to research, collections, education, and exhibitions. Colleges and universities employ archaeologists as faculty members that teach undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to teaching, academic archaeologists are active researchers in their field. They write grants to raise money to fund their fieldwork, In addition to directing excavations; they oversee the analysis and interpretation of the projects and publish the results of their work in books, and scholarly journals, as well as in popular publications that help make their research available to the public.






Do archaeologists travel a lot?

It depends. Archaeologists whose research areas are not near where they live may travel regularly, as funding permits, to conduct surveys or excavations.  Many archaeologists, however, are in jobs that do not require much travel. This is true for some jobs in federal and state government, museums, parks and historic sites—jobs that involve managing collections or public programs or education. Other archaeologists travel but within a confined geographic area. For example, an archaeologist who manages projects for a large engineering firm may travel within a several hundred mile radius as needed by the company, depending on the projects that are active at the moment, but may spend much of his or her time in the lab and office doing analysis and writing reports and other publications. All professional archaeologists spend much more of their time involved in these other tasks than they do in the field.

Information Courtesy of Maureen Malloy, SAA Public Education Manager.

Posted by Patrice L. Jeppson 02/18/05   Page updated 2/4/10