Using a variety of practical and scientific methods ranging from excavation to radiocarbon dating, archaeologists investigate the past through the evidence that people have left behind - everything from microscopic pollen samples and tiny glass beads to bones, buildings and even landscapes. This means that archaeologists develop a wide array of interdisciplinary, transferable, and practical skills on a day-to-day basis. In general, someone working in archaeology will regularly use problem solving, critical thinking and creative skills, teamwork, communication, IT and even project management skills.
Example jobs include:
- Fieldwork Archaeologists (e.g. trainee, supervisor, project officer, etc.)
- Geographic Information System Analyst
- Community Archaeologist
- Museum Curator
- Archaeological Conservator
- Archaeological Consultant
- Post-excavation Officer
- Specialist (e.g. osteoarchaeologist, dendrochronologist, geoarchaeologist, forensic archaeologist, etc)
To find out more about what skills are needed, information on training, how to get started on your career and examples about different roles, check out the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists' Careers Toolkit.
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Why not read about people’s experiences with archaeology and heritage science careers?
Marketing and Communications Officer and Heritage Learning Assistant at Archaeology Scotland
I am the Marketing & Communications Officer and Heritage Learning Assistant at Archaeology Scotland. Over the past year, I have also become a part of the Scottish Archaeology Month team, which is behind organising and delivering the national archaeology, history and heritage festival, promoting awareness and access to Scottish archaeology throughout September. My day-to-day involves many different activities, from managing Archaeology Scotland’s social media, writing press releases, creating newsletters, tracking social media and website analytics, taking photos at events, talking to people at digs, and helping the learning team deliver workshops for schools. I came to Archaeology Scotland through my traineeship, where I got to learn from the team, and I got to bring my own skills and develop them even further.
Archaeology is an incredibly creative and dynamic sector where you get to do many things, use a variety of skills, and meet very interesting people. There are so many different roles in archaeology that you can take up that there’s something for everyone!
Digital Innovation Trainee at Historic Environment Scotland
As a Digital Innovation Trainee, I work and learn from the Digital Documentation and Innovation Team. My day-to-day involves working on a variety of projects and building up my skills through them. I am currently working on the registration of scanned data (which is to put every scan in its right place) for a 15th-century church.
I came into this role after developing my skills through volunteering. After graduation, I was determined to get a job in the heritage sector. I applied for many entry-level posts but received few replies as I had no previous working experience in the heritage sector in the UK. I decided to apply for more posts within a wider range, such as voluntary job or internships, to enhance the skills that I need for jobs in the heritage sector. Luckily, I got an opportunity at Dynamic Earth, where I learned more about improving accessibility to the public and carrying out visitor research. The knowledge and skills are transferable to many posts within the creative and cultural industries!
Working as a trainee, I can take the ownership of my traineeship and make learning plans which allows me to focus on the skills that will help with my career progression. I like to break the long-term learning goals into smaller tasks, such as following a software tutorial, doing background reading about a project, or familiarising myself with new kit. The team that I work with is always seeking new ways to improve their work and make more people benefit from it, and with this mindset (plus feasible learning plans), you will be able to master any skill!