Archaeology

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There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.

Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.

Generating career ideas with Archaeology

Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Archaeology graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.

Some career ideas for Archaeology graduates

Archaeologist - examining ancient sites and objects to learn about the past, you will research, record, interpret and preserve archaeological remains for future generations. If you like the practical, physical elements of archaeology, being outside - often in all weather conditions, you may enjoy the fieldwork and excavations, but opportunities for archaeologists can also include researching, preserving, conserving, displaying and interpretation ie explaining and presenting the significance of artefacts to the layperson in creative educational or engaging ways.

Heritage manager and museum/gallery officer/conservator - Heritage manager posts involve conserving, developing, and promoting an historic building or site. Museum/gallery officer/conservator posts involve acquiring, caring for, developing, displaying, and interpreting a collection of historical artefacts or works of art with the aim of informing, educating and inspiring the public. Entry is usually via a mixture of voluntary work, work experience, temporary positions and increasingly a postgraduate qualification (many of which include work placements) in a related subject is very useful.

Librarian/information officer - procure, manage, organise, evaluate and disseminate information, and provide support regarding information retrieval to the organisations’ users. Librarians/information officers can work in universities, public libraries, schools, commercial companies, professional practices and a range of other organisations. Entry is usually via a postgraduate qualification after a period of related work experience.

Archivist - Archivists acquire, manage and maintain documents and other materials that have historical importance, and make the information contained in them available to a range of users. They are employed by national/local government organisations, universities, libraries, museums and other public and private sector bodies. Entry is usually via a postgraduate qualification after a period of related work experience.

Engineering consultant - engineering and environmental consultancies may employ archaeologists to do desk based research to identify and investigate the archaeology of a site prior to construction or infrastructure projects. Archaeologists may work with colleagues or external clients to consult and assess the impact of potential construction projects on the archaeology, heritage, historic landscape and conservation of an area prior to contracts being awarded.

Publishing/editorial assistant - In this role you will offer support at all stages of the publication process e.g. administration, planning and commissioning, for magazines, journals, books and online content. Digital publishing will involve writing and editing web content, the use of social media and content management systems and familiarity with specialist software programmes such as QuarkXPress or InDesign. Will be required to liaise with other professionals such as designers, photographers, printers and production staff, to agree timescales to negotiate and monitor timescales for the work to be completed.

Laboratory assistant - Primarily involved in planning and conducting experiments and analysing results. In addition to practical laboratory experience and knowledge, they need tenacity, creative problem solving skills and the ability to work collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams.

Teaching - History and science are a fundamental subjects in secondary school curriculum so if you have enjoyed these aspects of your course and are energised by sharing your love of the subject with others and thinking of new and engaging ways of presenting your knowledge, you might enjoy teaching as a career. Obviously depending on the age group and academic level of teaching you are considering, experience of and an ability to establish rapport with the relevant age group would also be a prerequisite as would good leadership and time management skills.

Subject specific resources

  • CIfa - Chartered Institute for Archaeologists