How to Become an Archaeologist

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The world has tremendously evolved over time and archaeological remains are irreplaceable and essential to our evolution as a planet to learn about the civilizations from the past and improve from them. Archaeologists are essential professionals that are dedicated to uncovering information about the world’s ancient civilizations.

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What does an archaeologist do?

Archaeologists examine people and culture from the past through artifacts of things past people have made, used, or adapted. They study and recover material evidence such as building ruins, pottery, tools, and anything else they can find that links to past cultures to determine the history, living habits, and customs of ancient civilizations. They study locations and artifacts to save cultural resources from being destroyed by human or natural forces and to answer specific research questions. Archaeologists strive to examine and preserve the limited and delicate evidence of previous cultures for us as humans to understand the links to the past.

The constant advances in technology assist archaeologists in targeting excavations without having to dig. An example of advanced technology is geographic information systems (GIS). GIS helps archaeologists analyze how environmental factors near a specific location could have affected the development of a civilization.

What kind of training does an archaeologist need?

Many archaeologists start with a bachelor degree in archaeology or anthropology and then pursue higher education. Most archaeologist positions require a master or doctoral degree. To conduct research or teach, a PhD is required. Being competent in using computers for conducting research is an essential skill in archaeology as well. Archaeologists must also stay updated on the latest advances in technology to help their research. Many archaeologists also complete internships or other field experience through local museums, non-profit organizations, government agencies, historical societies, and other organizations. Many archaeologists also attend archaeologist field schools for instruction on how to excavate, interpret, and record historical sites.

What are the prospects for a career in archaeology?

Employment of archaeologists is projected to grow as fast as the average for all professions, increasing 15% from 2006 to 2016 (1).

Majority of job opportunities will stem from the technical consulting services, scientific, and management industries. More archaeologists will also be needs as construction projects increase. These archaeologists will monitor the work to make sure that historical sites and artifacts are protected.

How much do archaeologists make?

According to Payscale as of June 2009, archaeologists with 1 to 4 years experience earned an average annual salary of $33,366. Archaeologists with 5 to 9 years experience earned an average annual salary of $41,416 (2).

A career as an archaeologist is a great choice for people who have a passion in uncovering things from the past and constantly searching for information about past people and cultures. Archaeologists must have perseverance because it can take years of studying historical sites and artifacts to make a final interpretation and analysis.

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