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Earnings Potential

The average salary for an individual who is just entering the field is about $22,700.  After five years an individual has the potential to make about $36,000.  On average, a significant pay increase follows the ten to fifteen year landmark of about $54,200.

Facts at a Glance

Summary of what this Degree Entails

  At the undergraduate level, there is little specialization. A major in anthropology requires courses in all of the sub-disciplines. For students interested in ancient and classical civilizations, the particular undergraduate major is not important, but it is advantageous to begin learning several ancient and modern languages (e.g. Greek, Latin, German, French). Historical archaeologists usually major in anthropology or history. An undergraduate degree (B.A. /B.S.) is sufficient to work as a field archaeologist in the U.S. and to perform basic laboratory studies.

Examples and or Details of Work

  The details of one’s work can vary significantly depending on which profession he/she chooses.  For example, if one chooses to be a professor and teach the field of archaeology then one must present writing skills and oral communication skills, these are essential. One must also possess the ability to relate to his/her students.  Intellectual curiosity and creativity are also fundamental traits of an archaeologist.  Training in statistics and mathematics, and the ability to use computers for research are essential.  Objectivity, open-mindedness and systematic work habits are important in all types of social science research.  Upon engaging in archaeological digs one must have patience and a love for the outdoors.

Degrees that lead to this Career

  Education and training requirements are different for different kinds of archaeology.  In the U.S. anthropology departments include archaeology as one of four sub-disciplines; the others are physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.  Many four year schools do not offer degrees in archaeology, however if one wishes to go on to further education, they can receive a masters for doctorate degree in archaeology. 

Specific Career Openings in this Field

Professional archaeologists work for universities, colleges, museums, the federal government, state governments, in private companies, and as consultants. They teach, conduct field investigations, analyze artifacts and sites, and publish the results of their research.  Museums may be connected with a university or independent. Museum curators conduct research, publish the results, give public presentations, prepare displays, and conserve the museum collections.  Many archaeologists work for the federal government. The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Army Corps.  Many archaeologists also work for state government agencies. Every state has a State Historic Preservation Office with one or more archaeologists on staff. In addition, other archaeologists work in state parks departments, highway departments, and water resource departments.