Archaeology Video: Career Options for a Degree in Archaeology

Archaeology Video: Career Options for a Degree in Archaeology Transcript

Many regard archaeology to be among the most exciting fields in the social sciences. It is not in every profession that a person is able to witness firsthand discoveries in human ancestry. If you're interested in humanity's evolution and the population of our planet, a career as an archaeologist may be right for you. Archaeology programs can be found at dozens of institutions throughout the nation and are popular among students who want to better understand our species and world.


Archaeology is the study of human history through the examination of artifacts like skeletal remains, structural ruins, pottery, tools and other items from past cultures. Professionals in this field also analyze environmental factors where artifacts are found. The objective of these efforts is to better understand past civilizations by reconstructing their lives through the archaeological record. Archaeologists employ a wide range of theoretical methods to determine the social, economic, and cultural habits of past peoples. Often there is a focus on establishing technological developments and analyzing their role in the population of the earth. The ultimate intent is to better understand the history and nature of human beings.

Job Skills and Duties

Perhaps the most common perception of archaeologists involves the discovery of artifacts at sites across the globe. While field investigation is an important part of the profession, archaeologists spend much of their time analyzing data from excavations and writing about their findings. This process may include study of past archaeological expeditions as well as climatology and environmental analysis. Many archaeologists also serve as teachers instructing students on excavation methods and theoretical models of their work. Strong analytical, problem solving and writing skills are all important in this work. Those engaged in fieldwork must exhibit attention to detail and strict observation of preservation methods. Increasing reliance on geographic information systems has made familiarity with new technological tools important.

Training Required

Archaeology programs can vary somewhat between schools. Generally speaking, students examine the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the field. They learn about the archaeological record and how to draw inferences about the past from present day breakthroughs. Students may also apply findings to contemporary issues (for example, the effect of environmental degradation upon populations.) In these programs, classroom work is complemented by hands-on instruction in laboratory and field settings. Those enrolled in graduate programs are often required to complete significant work in the field and produce original research. Many archaeology majors also enhance their education through internships in museums, government agencies, and other organizations.

Well Known Jobs Within This Field of Expertise

Some of the most coveted positions in archaeology are available primarily to those with graduate degrees. Many of these professionals are employed in academic settings and divide their time between teaching, fieldwork, writing and administrative duties. Other archaeologists serve as curators or preservationists in museums and similar institutions. Additional professionals work for the government in national parks and facilities. Archaeologists may also work for firms as consultants on various projects.


Archaeology careers are great for those who are intellectually curious about the evolution of human beings and our world. Many of the best positions in academic and museum settings can be quite competitive. This fact, however, does not prevent many thousands of graduates from finding rewarding work in a variety of public and private settings.


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