Alternative Careers in Archaeology

“So, you’re an anthropology major and you want to find a career in archaeology. There is no way you are going to find a job doing that! All you is dig in the dirt all day looking for bones and artifacts. What else is there for you to do?”

The general public has a narrow view of the definition of archaeology. The public does not understand the skills that an archeologist possesses or the possible fields an archaeologist can flourish in. We all know that there is more to archaeology than just digging in the dirt.

Not every student want to enter into the world of academia. However, what else is out there for archaeologists? Not surprisingly, 80% of the people in the United States that claim their profession as archaeology are in alternative careers. The possibilities for future archaeologists are endless, if you take the time to think creatively and take a step outside the box!

How to Prepare Yourself for an Alternate Career in Archaeology

  • Appreciate the importance and value of archaeology
  • Understand the value of the skills you have learned through archaeology
  • Remember your valuable skills as a ‘cultural translator’

How to Create and Alternate Career in Archaeology

Think outside the box! Be creative!

Ask yourself:

  1. What are the most valuable skills you have gained through your archaeological training?
  2. What skills could an archaeologist bring to the world?
  3. Where does the world need the archaeological perspective?
  4. Where can archaeology make a difference?

How to Sell Your Skills

  • You may not realize the skills that you have!
  • Think about it… Archaeologists have marketable skills such as, critical thinking, knowledge of digital databases, collections management, basic photography skills, ability to identify bones and artifacts, GIS, cultural sensitivity training, role of as ‘cultural translator,’ research skills, writing skills, computer skills, etc.
  • Translate to the public: What is the value of archaeology?
  • Sell your skills: What real world skills do you have?
  • Educate and excite the public about archaeology!
  • Be careful to avoid jargon, such as agency, gendering, etc.

Tips for Getting the Jobs

  • Networking! It’s all about who you know. Take volunteer, intern, and temporary positions.
  • Be flexible, curious, and willing to try new things.
  • Know the tricks of the application process – knowlege, skills, and apptitude (e.g. management position – organizing and leading a field crew, accounting experience – developing a budget for field work expenses)
  • You have the skills, but you need to learn to translate those skills into terms understood by the general public.

Ideas to Get You Started

  • Tour business (geotours, ecotours, heritage tours)
  • Grant writing companies
  • Newspapers
  • Science writing
  • Free lance writing
  • Discovery Channel consultant
  • EPA
  • Corps of engineers
  • Genocide Study
  • NGOs
  • The possibilities are endless!

Links for Further Information

Archeological Studies Program – Careers in Archaeology