How do I become an archaeologist?

Archaeology is the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artefacts and other remains. Archaeology is a truly multi-disciplinary subject. This means that there are many pathways to a career in archaeology including apprenticeships or studying for a degree. 

What careers are there in archaeology?

There are lots of jobs within the archaeological profession covering a wide range of archaeological skills:

  • Field archaeologist (excavation and interpretation)
  • Finds specialists (processing, recognition and analysis)
  • Heritage consultant (understanding existing landscapes and cityscapes)
  • Building recording (recognising historic building features and fabric)
  • Palaeo-environmental analysis (pollen and charred plant remains)
  • Archaeological illustration (2D, 3D, static and moving images)
  • Geoarchaeologist (geography, geology and other Earth sciences)
  • Geophysicist (data collection and interpretation both on land and marine)
  • Geomatics (survey and data manipulation)
  • Marine and maritime archaeologists (diving, shipwrecks and seabed prehistory) 
  • Osteoarchaeologist (human bone analysis)
  • Community and education (raising awareness)

...and many more

Combined with a good knowledge of our archaeological past, all these roles are vital for the practice of archaeology today. Taking an archaeology course at college or university will provide a basic grounding in many of these areas, with a difference in emphases depending on where you study. 


Where do archaeologists work?

Archaeologists can be found working for a wide range of employers including:

  • National Agencies such as Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, Cadw and the Department for Communities 
  • Local Authorities offering advice within County and City Councils
  • National organisations such as National Highways and the Environment Agency
  • Universities both in teaching and research
  • Museum curators and specialists
  • Development and planning consultancies
  • Commercial units such as Wessex Archaeology


Are there archaeology apprenticeships?

Our apprenticeship programme gives you the perfect balance of being able to work on archaeology excavations in England and gain a qualification. Supported by experienced and knowledgeable colleagues, you’ll learn the practical skills and behaviours to become a successful fieldwork archaeologist. The structured archaeologist apprenticeship programme will include training, modular coursework and assessments to become a fieldwork technician. After 12-15 months including the end point assessment, you'll be all set for a successful career in archaeology. 

Interested? Isabelle, who completed her apprenticeship with us, shares what she loved about site life and her apprenticeship in this short video.