Career Guide

Student and NPS Archeologist
Students learn archeology from NPS staff at Fort Vancouver National Historical Park. NPS photo.

If you are interested in a career as an archeologist, check out the questions and answers below. Scroll to the bottom of the page for an automated listing of archeologist and archeological technician job announcements.

Where do archeologists work?

Archeologists in the United States work in a range of settings, including universities and colleges; museums and historic sites; government agencies at all levels including federal, tribal, state, and local; engineering and Cultural Resource Management (CRM) firms; historical societies; professional societies; and private foundations.

What qualifies someone to be an archeologist?

The Secretary of the Interior's Qualification Standards for Archeologists outline the standards that many organizations and companies use to determine whether or not an applicant is equipped for a position. Professional archeologists qualify for jobs on the basis of their education and work experience. Depending on the job, you'll need college-level coursework in archeology and related topics, a field school, and at least a Bachelor's degree.

What education do I need?

A degree from a certified institution, such as a college or university, is a key qualification to be an archeologist. The degree conveys that you have knowledge about archeology as a discipline and an understanding of culture and history. Some archeologists have degrees in related fields, but with significant coursework in archeology. Professional archeologists have at least a Bachelor's degree. Many have Master's or Doctorate degrees. If you are interested in a particular aspect of archeology, be it a culture, a place, or technical specialty, focus your search on departments with strengths in those areas.

One place to start looking for schools is the eAnthroGuide Institution Search, maintained by the American Anthropological Association.

How can I get experience?

Field schools and volunteer and internship positions provide real-world experience in archeology. Search online for "archaeology field school" or "volunteer archaeology" or "archaeology internship." You'll get dozens of results from states, private companies, museums, and colleges or universities. If you have a park in mind, be in contact directly to find out if they can work with you.

More information is on the field schools, volunteer, and internships pages.

What are professional societies for?

Professional archeological societies are networks of professional archeologists and archeology enthusiasts. Join a national, regional, or local professional society to receive newsletters and publications and attend their conferences. National professional organizations include the American Cultural Resources Association, the American Anthropological Association, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Society for Historical Archaeology, the Society for American Archaeology, the Society for Applied Anthropology, and the Society of Black Archaeologists. Your state or region may have its own professional societies.

Conferences offer ways to share information, hear about new ideas, and stock up on the latest literature. Submit a paper, join a panel, and attend workshops. Conferences are a great way to meet people and expand your resume. Head to the exhibit area and introduce yourself to employers and publishers. Learn to network!

Also consider getting in touch with archeologists in your area for an informational interview, such as your state archeologist or State Historic Preservation Officer. Check with local colleges and universities to speak with archeologists in their anthropology or archeology programs.

Where are jobs listed?

Archeologists may work on a project-to-project basis or year-round. Some job announcement websites are also portals to apply for positions. Others list advertisements only.

Job openings (as well as some internships or other opportunities) in the NPS and the federal government are posted on USA Jobs. Search for "archeologist." USA Jobs is also where you apply for jobs. Be sure to scroll to "Explore Hiring Paths" to learn about the various paths into federal service.

Professional societies also compile job postings:

Current Job Opportunities

Last updated: May 13, 2024