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Working As An Archaeologist

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Processing Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • $62,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Archaeologist Do

Anthropologists and archeologists study the origin, development, and behavior of humans. They examine the cultures, languages, archeological remains, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world.

Duties

Anthropologists and archeologists typically do the following:

  • Plan research projects to answer questions and test hypotheses about human behavior and the interaction between humans within a culture, between different cultures, and between nature and culture
  • Develop data collection methods tailored to a particular region, specialty, or project
  • Collect information from observations, interviews, and documents
  • Record and manage records of observations taken in the field
  • Analyze data, laboratory samples, and other sources of information to uncover patterns about human life, culture, and origins
  • Prepare reports and present research findings
  • Advise organizations on the cultural impact of policies, programs, and products

By drawing and building on knowledge from the humanities and the social, physical, and biological sciences, anthropologists and archeologists examine the ways of life, languages, archeological remains, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world. They also examine the customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures.

Many anthropologists and archeologists use sophisticated tools and technologies in their work. Although the equipment used varies by task and specialty, it often includes excavation and measurement tools, laboratory and recording equipment, statistical and database software, and geographic information systems (GIS). Technology is integral to modern research and fieldwork and the use of new technologies is rapidly expanding in the field.

Archeologists examine, recover, and preserve evidence of human activity from past cultures. They analyze human remains and artifacts, such as tools, pottery, cave paintings, and ruins of buildings. They connect their findings with information about past environments to learn about the history, customs, and living habits of people in earlier eras.

Archeologists also manage and protect archeological sites. Some work in national parks or at historical sites, providing site protection and educating the public. Others assess building sites to ensure that construction plans comply with federal regulations on site preservation. Archeologists often specialize in a particular geographic area, period, or object of study, such as animal remains or underwater sites.

Some anthropologists study the social and cultural consequences of current human issues, such as overpopulation, natural disasters, warfare, and poverty; others study the prehistory and the evolution of humans.

A growing number of anthropologists perform market research for businesses by studying the demand for products by a particular culture or social group. Using their anthropological background and a variety of techniques—including interviews, surveys, and observations—they may collect data on how a product is used by specific demographic groups.

The following are examples of types of anthropologists:

Biological anthropologists, also known as physical anthropologists, research the evolution and development of the human species. They look for early evidence of human life, analyze genetics, study primates, and examine the biological variations in humans. They analyze how culture and biology influence each other. Some may examine human remains found at archeological sites to understand population demographics or to identify factors—such as nutrition and disease—that affected these populations. Others may work as forensic anthropologists in medical or legal settings, identifying and analyzing skeletal remains and genetic material.

Cultural anthropologists study the customs, cultures, and social lives of groups. They investigate social practices and processes in settings that range from remote, unindustrialized villages to modern urban centers. Cultural anthropologists often spend time living in the societies they study and collect information through observations, interviews, and surveys.

Linguistic anthropologists study how humans communicate and how language shapes social life. They investigate nonverbal communication, the structure and development of languages, and differences among languages. They also examine the role of language in different cultures, how social and cultural factors affect language, and how language affects a person’s experiences. Many linguistic anthropologists study non-European languages, which they learn directly from native speakers.

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How To Become An Archaeologist

Anthropologists and archeologists need a master’s degree or Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology. Experience doing fieldwork in either discipline is also important. Bachelor’s degreeholders may find work as assistants or fieldworkers.

Education

Most anthropologists and archeologists qualify for available positions with a master’s degree in anthropology or archeology. The typical master’s degree program takes 2 years to complete and includes field or laboratory research.

Anthropology and archeology students typically conduct field research during their graduate programs, often working abroad or in community-based research. Many students also attend archeological field schools, which teach students how to excavate historical and archeological sites and how to record and interpret their findings and data.

Although a master’s degree is enough for many positions, a Ph.D. may be needed for jobs that require leadership skills and advanced technical knowledge. Anthropologists and archeologists typically need a Ph.D. to work internationally in order to comply with the requirements of foreign governments. A Ph.D. takes several years of study beyond a master’s degree. Ph.D. students must also complete a doctoral dissertation, which typically includes between 18 and 30 months of field research.

Those with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology or archeology and work experience gained through an internship or field school can work as field or laboratory technicians or research assistants. However, anthropologists and archeologists need a master’s degree to advance beyond entry-level positions.

Many people with a Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology become professors or museum curators. For more information, see the profiles on postsecondary teachers, and archivists, curators, and museum workers.

Other Experience

Graduates of anthropology and archeology programs usually need work experience in their respective fields and training in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Many students gain experience through field training or internships with museums, historical societies, or nonprofit organizations.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Anthropologists and archeologists must possess knowledge of scientific methods and data, which are often used in their research.

Critical-thinking skills. Anthropologists and archeologists must be able to draw conclusions from observations, laboratory experiments, and other methods of research.

Communication skills. Anthropologists and archeologists often have to present their research and findings to their peers and to general audiences.

Investigative skills. Anthropologists and archeologists must seek and explore all facts relevant to their research. They must be able to combine various sources of information to try to solve problems and to answer research questions.

Writing skills. Anthropologists and archeologists need strong writing skills because they often write reports detailing their research findings and publish results in scholarly journals and public interest publications.

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Average Yearly Salary
$62,000
Show Salaries
$38,000
Min 10%
$62,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Median 50%
$101,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Raba-Kistner Consultants
Highest Paying City
Glastonbury, CT
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.6 years
How much does an Archaeologist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Archaeologist in the United States is $62,764 per year or $30 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $101,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Archaeologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Archaeologist Vecinos Del Rio Nov 20, 2013 $56,203
Archaeologist Vecinos Del Rio Nov 20, 2010 $53,219
Cultural Resources/Archaeologist AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc. Sep 14, 2011 $47,091 -
$68,266
Archaeologist San Diego Archaeological Center Aug 26, 2016 $44,871 -
$46,958
Staff Archaeologist Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. Oct 01, 2011 $44,000

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Top Skills for An Archaeologist

  1. Artifact Analysis
  2. Lab Analysis
  3. Archaeological Sites
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Participated in excavations which required extensive measurements, calculations, data input and compilation, map plotting, and artifact analysis.
  • Organized gathered data and artifacts from the field and labeling them for the TVAR lab analysis and documentation for final reports.
  • Engaged in laboratory analysis of evidence from historic archaeological sites in Washington and Oregon.
  • Performed archaeological surveys and excavations for Ft. Bliss Military Base and the International Boundary and Water Commission.
  • Created, collected, edited, aggregated, and summarized data from multiple sources for reports and analyses, including GPS.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Archaeologists

  1. Maine
  2. Rhode Island
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Alaska
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Connecticut
  7. New Jersey
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Louisiana
  10. Maryland
  • (4 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)

Archaeologist Demographics

Gender

Male

50.7%

Female

44.9%

Unknown

4.4%
Ethnicity

White

65.3%

Hispanic or Latino

13.4%

Black or African American

10.5%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

44.9%

French

11.9%

German

7.6%

Italian

6.8%

Greek

5.1%

Japanese

4.2%

Arabic

4.2%

Russian

2.5%

Portuguese

1.7%

Hindi

1.7%

Navajo

1.7%

Swahili

0.8%

Sami

0.8%

Urdu

0.8%

Irish

0.8%

Cherokee

0.8%

Carrier

0.8%

Hebrew

0.8%

Mandarin

0.8%

Polish

0.8%
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Archaeologist Education

Schools

Northern Arizona University

9.2%

University of New Mexico

9.2%

East Carolina University

5.9%

Virginia Commonwealth University

5.0%

University of Central Florida

5.0%

University of West Florida

5.0%

Texas A&M University

5.0%

University of Texas at Austin

5.0%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

4.2%

University of Nevada - Reno

4.2%

University of Memphis

4.2%

University of Washington

4.2%

Saint Mary's College of Maryland

4.2%

New Mexico State University

4.2%

University of Arizona

4.2%

Arizona State University

4.2%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.2%

Ohio State University

4.2%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

4.2%

Portland State University

4.2%
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Majors

Anthropology

54.2%

Classical And Ancient Studies

18.3%

History

8.0%

Geography

3.6%

Fine Arts

2.9%

Environmental Science

1.6%

Geology

1.4%

Museum Studies

1.3%

Biology

1.1%

Business

0.9%

Psychology

0.9%

Journalism

0.9%

Nursing

0.7%

Historic Preservation And Conservation

0.7%

Political Science

0.7%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.5%

Philosophy

0.5%

Classical Languages

0.5%

General Studies

0.5%

Law

0.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

55.5%

Masters

32.1%

Doctorate

5.6%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

2.5%

Diploma

0.8%

High School Diploma

0.8%
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Updated May 18, 2020