Archaeologists play a vital role within our cultural society, as they study culture, human life, and historical or human origins. The expertise of an archaeologist is crucial to understanding how the past will shape our current society. Archaeologists examine the physical remains of human beings, animals, and other categories within an excavation site. The evaluation of skeletal remains, artifacts, and ruins of buildings are all part of the archaeologist’s duties.
Archaeologists work with other individuals, such as builders and construction workers to preserve and handle historical artifacts found within the Earth. Archaeological research is obtained through analyzing laboratory samples, data, archaeological remains, and excavation sites. The information collected by archaeologists during excavation is used to understand the past history, environment, cultures, living habits, and customs of the remains or objects. If you have a passion for history, data collection, and preserving history, you may want to explore a career in archaeology.
Why Become An Archaeologist
Archaeologists work to protect, preserve, examine, and recover artifacts and remains from the past. If you wish to pursue a career in archaeology, it is imperative that you understand the importance of protecting and preserving historical sites, while educating the public about the significance of archaeology. Without the work of archaeologists and preservationists, the history and artifacts of our Earth would be erased from humanity.
Essential Skills for Archaeologists
If you are looking for employment within the field of archaeology, be aware that you will need to possess the following skills for an archaeologist position.
Analytical Skills – Archaeologists must have a vast knowledge in the areas of scientific data and methods, which are typically applied to their scientific research. Archaeologists utilize the scientific methods and data to analyze specific objects, time periods, or geographic areas.
Critical-Thinking Skills – As an archaeologist, you will need to have strong critical-thinking skills, as you will be constantly drawing conclusions from your archaeological observations, research, and laboratory experiments.
Writing Skills – Archaeologists need exemplary writing skills, as you will be creating research reports on your archaeological findings. Additionally, as an archaeologist, you will most likely be publishing your research and observations in scholarly journals or archaeological publications; therefore, it is imperative that your writing skills are very strong.
Investigative Skills – As an archaeologist, you are seeking and exploring history as it pertains to your archaeological research or fieldwork. You must be able to combine your research and knowledge in order to solve missing parts of history. Furthermore, your expertise will allow you to see the missing aspects of an archaeological dig and piece the clues together to solve an issue.
Archaeologist Work Environment
The work environment of an archaeologist is dependent upon where they work. Many archaeologists work for CRM (Cultural Resource Management) firms, which recognize, evaluate, and protect archaeological sites by ensuring that builders and developers comply with federal, archaeological regulations. Additionally, archaeologists often work in museum settings, historical sites, and the National Park Service. Archaeologists perform fieldwork abroad in international locations, or locally, in order to excavate archaeological sites.
Archaeologists utilize excavation tools, equipment, and geographical information to uncover the past. The work of an archaeologist can be intense and grueling, as you may travel for extended periods of time, learn a new language, and spend weeks at an excavation site. The physical labor of the excavation and work of an archaeologist can be taxing to the body. When performing fieldwork or research, an archaeologist can work more than full-time.
The Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor showed the mean annual wage in May 2012, of archaeologists, is $57,420.
Archaeologist Career Outlook
The career outlook for an archaeologist looks to grow faster than other career areas, with a projected increase of 19% from 2012 to 2022. The archaeological field is quite a small profession and due to this, it is projected there will be approximately 1,400 new job opportunities within the next decade.
In order to become an archaeologist, you will need to obtain a Master’s or PhD degree in archaeology. It is imperative you gain practical training experience during your fieldwork or internship. A Bachelor’s degree is acceptable if you wish to pursue a career as an assistant or technician to a fieldworker or archaeologist. Archaeological field schools will teach prospective archaeology students how to safely and properly excavate an archaeological site.
Schools will show students how to obtain, record, and interpret their data or findings. When pursuing your Master’s of PhD degree, it is imperative think of an area of specialization. It is imperative that you have strong analytical, critical thinking, investigative, and writing skills, when pursuing an archaeological degree. Many archaeologists choose to specialize within a specific time period of history, objects of study, or geographic area.