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What can I do with my degree?: Archaeology

Opportunities for archaeologists exist within museums, heritage agencies and local government but the skills you'll get from the degree open up doors to many different careers

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

If you want to become an archaeologist try to get relevant work experience as it will show your commitment and genuine interest in the career. Some employers will also expect you to have experience in related areas. You can consider volunteering as a digger or check out opportunities with local museums and galleries and heritage organisations.

Volunteer work will introduce you to the demands of working outdoors, in all weather conditions, and it is an excellent way of demonstrating your physical fitness and resilience. It will also help you build a network of useful contacts.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Employers of archaeologists include:

  • archaeological contractors;
  • local government;
  • university archaeology departments;
  • national heritage agencies;
  • independent archaeological consultants.

Other organisations employing archaeology graduates include some private museums and charities.

Rescue archaeology in advance of building work for utilities companies and environmental agencies has become a growth area.

Find information on employers in teaching and education, and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

During your degree, you'll develop a mix of subject-specific and technical skills, which generally include:

  • applying theoretical and scientific principles and concepts to archaeological problems;
  • field work, post-excavation and laboratory techniques;
  • applying statistical and numerical techniques to process archaeological data;
  • interpretation of spatial data.

Archaeology courses also equip you with the skills to:

  • work as a team member/leader through field/project work;
  • form structured arguments supported by evidence;
  • use various IT packages;
  • prepare and give oral presentations for different audiences;
  • retrieve information to produce written reports;
  • work methodically and accurately;
  • demonstrate attention to detail.

Further study

A range of specialist areas can be explored, such as human osteology and palaeopathology, as well as related subjects, such as geophysics. A PhD is often necessary for a career in archaeological research or an academic career.

Archaeology graduates also pursue courses of professional training in law, teaching, nursing and environmental health.

Distance learning and short courses to improve your career prospects and keep your skills and knowledge up to date are available through professional organisations, such as the:

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degreesand search postgraduate courses.

What do archaeology graduates do?

More than half of all archaeology graduates are in employment six months after graduation and more than one in ten are working as social and humanities scientists.

Almost a third go on to further study, either full time or part time, immediately after completing their course.

Graduate destinations for archaeology
Destinations Percentage
Employed 52.9%
Further study 23.0%
Working and studying 8.5%
Unemployed 9.2%
Other 6.3%
Types of work entered in the UK
Retail, catering and bar work 19.2%
Science professionals 11.8%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 10.5%
Business, HR and financial 9.8%
Other 48.7%

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.


Further information

Written by AGCAS editors
January 2014

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