Archaeology Degree Careers (With Salaries and Job Duties)
Updated 21 July 2023
If you're considering obtaining a degree in archaeology, you might want to know what kind of careers you may be eligible for after graduation. In this article, we discuss the jobs you can hold with an archaeology degree along with the national average salaries of each.
What is an archaeology degree?
An archaeology degree usually refers to a Bachelor's degree in the field of archaeology. Many universities offer this as a subfield of anthropology, which is the study of human behaviours and activities throughout history. While the study of archaeology sometimes overlaps with that of anthropology, archaeologists are generally more concerned with tangible historical remains such as ruins, fossils, and remnants of ancient tools and objects.
From these clues, archaeologists are able to establish theories about how and when groups of people lived in the past, as well as the systems of governance they had and the types of tools they used.
Different disciplines in archaeology
Archaeology is mainly broken into two specialisations: prehistoric archaeology and historic archaeology. There are various sub-disciplines within each of these two categories.
The term 'prehistoric' refers to the time period before written history. Because many ancient civilisations did not keep written records, archaeologists often have to rely solely on physical evidence to guide their knowledge of prehistoric culture and society. Prehistoric archaeologists find clues of that time period by unearthing and excavating ancient artefacts, fossils and building ruins, and analysing them to draw conclusions about the past. There are many complex techniques that these archaeologists can use to establish the age, usage and importance of the objects they discover.
The study of historic archaeology, though involving physical remains as well, relies more heavily on written and oral history. Historical archaeologists use old engravings, manuscripts and/or records to gain an understanding of ancient tribes and past civilisations.
Oftentimes, historic archaeologists also have to decode ancient languages in order to make sense of the script they unearth.
What can you do with a Bachelor's degree in archaeology?
There are a variety of career paths you can pursue with a Bachelor's degree in archaeology, but some of these may require additional postgraduate qualifications (like a Master's degree). Here are a few examples:
National average salary: $2,336 per month
Primary duties: Field technicians work on archaeological dig sites and are usually in charge of troubleshooting, testing and repairing technical equipment, as well as handling on-site technical installations. A field tech with a specialisation in archaeology usually has duties like performing reconnaissance surveys, establishing grids, and collecting artefacts.
National average salary: $2,567 per month
Primary duties: As an archivist, you'd spend a substantial portion of your time preserving old records and making them more easily accessible (especially in digital format). Archives may include anything from historical maps, videos, documents, books, prints, blueprints, pictures, cassettes, and films to computer-generated information. The daily responsibilities of an archivist include collecting catalogues, evaluating records, liaising with donors and depositors, arranging the acquisition and retrieval of new records and providing advice on proper record storage.
National average salary: $3,470 per month
Primary duties: A heritage manager is in charge of protecting and conserving historical sites like ancient monuments, museums, landscapes, and other buildings with historical value. Heritage managers also have to come up with strategies for revenue-generating so that the sites they protect are viable as a business.
National average salary: $4,652 per month
Primary duties: Researchers are responsible for advancing human understanding in their field of choice. As an archaeological researcher, you will have to conduct in-depth studies in anthropology and archaeology, and publish articles in peer-reviewed journals, reports and/or books.
National average salary: $3,603 per month
Primary duties: Curators work in museums and galleries, and are in charge of maintaining artefacts and/or works of art. As an archaeological curator, you will be expected to acquire, care for, display and interpret historical artefacts. Curators are sometimes also given additional responsibilities like managing public relations, marketing and fundraising on behalf of their museum/gallery.
National average salary: $14,552 per month
Primary duties: A professor is a teacher employed by a university or other educational institute of higher learning. Their work usually involves developing a teaching curriculum, giving lectures and providing academic instruction.
Where can you work with a degree in archaeology?
With an archaeology degree, you can find work in the following institutions:
Museums, libraries and galleries: Many archaeologists are employed at centres of learning like museums, libraries and galleries as curators or archivists.
Archaeological sites: Archaeologists may also work on active archaeological sites and/or digs as excavators or technicians.
Research institutes: Archaeologists can also be employed in universities and research institutions where they give lectures, do research and publish archaeology-related articles and journals.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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