How to Become an Archaeologist (with Images)

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How to Become an Archaeologist (with Images)
How to Become an Archaeologist (with Images)

Archeology is the study of human cultures that have existed throughout time and around the entire globe. His investigation is by examining artifacts found at archaeological sites in order to learn more about the people who left them behind. While this profession may turn out to be a little different from what it appeared to be in the Indiana Jones movies, if you consider that the idea of ​​digging an arrowhead untouched for over 900 years is just as exciting as the chances of being chased by a rock detached, this could turn out to be the perfect career for you. If you think you have what it takes to become an archaeologist, read on to find out how to get into this career.


Part 1 of 3: Meeting the Requirements

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Step 1. Finish high school

You will need a secondary education to start the journey to be an archaeologist, thus allowing for further education. In high school, it is important to do well in subjects such as History, Geography and Portuguese, in addition to being crucial to pay attention to those of a scientific nature, such as Biology and Chemistry. If you discover extracurricular activities in your city or region that can further deepen your knowledge and experience in the archaeological field, make good use of them all. Search your school, local library or city hall for information to find out if there are archaeological groups or associations in your city or region - or even search for package tours with a little "field research" in Archeology.

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Step 2. Decide what to do next

In Brazil, to obtain the title of archaeologist, it is necessary to take a higher education course. There are three training options related to what to do next to get it: graduating in Anthropology or pursuing a postgraduate degree, be it a Masters or Doctorate (or both), after having obtained a diploma from a higher education course.

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Step 3. Graduation (or Bachelor's Degree): This is the most recommended option, which will enable both theoretical and practical learning for 4 to 5 years, depending on the university of choice, in addition to offering something from the most varied disciplines of the great science of Archeology, such as Ancient History, Geology and Human Physiology. The title of Bachelor of Archeology will allow him to practice as a business consultant, museum technician, curator, archivist or even teaching as a substitute teacher, in addition to the existence of several other aspects.

Brazil already has, based on 2014, 12 undergraduate courses in Archeology, the oldest of which, at the Universidade Vale do São Francisco, or UNIVASF, started its activities in 2005

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Step 4. Master or Doctorate: Another option for those who already have a Bachelor's degree in another course is to opt for a master's or a doctorate. It is important to remember, however, that formations in this scope are recommended only to those with a basic mastery of archaeological theory and practice. These postgraduate courses, in many cases, may require prior training in the area or similar, evaluate the academic curriculum, require a research project or even take tests of knowledge in Archeology.

  • Unlike undergraduate courses, which show greater intensity in classroom teaching, masters and doctorates generally offer few theoretical classes, and rarely practical ones. Its focus is much deeper in the research developed by the student himself, based on the subjects offered by the course and his previous training. Postgraduate courses also make it possible to specialize in one or more specific areas of Archeology.
  • If you want to become an archaeologist, but do not have the necessary conditions to attend a degree, whether because of distance, financial or other reasons, human and biological options to consider before a future graduate degree are:

    • Anthropology:

      human science with theoretical load very close to archeology.

    • Story:

      this course dialogues with Archeology on several occasions, allowing students to study and carry out activities and works also related to prehistory.

    • Geography:

      provides basic education concerning societies and landscapes, intercommunicating with Geology through Physical Geography.

    • Social Sciences:

      it interrelates with several scientific disciplines, providing a basic teaching of many of the human approaches - including those present in Anthropology and History.

    • Geology:

      provides knowledge of the Earth's history and contains important disciplines to Archeology, such as Statistics, Geophysics and Paleontology.

    • Biology:

      science that provides the basic knowledge of Evolution, Statistics, Human Anatomy, Osteology, Botany, Zoology and several others important to archaeological formation.

  • In the 1990s, there was only one postgraduate course directly related to Archeology - by the year 2011, this number had multiplied by seven. When considering the number of archaeological surveys granted by IPHAN, out of the value of only 5 existing in 1991, the year 2010 ended with 969 permissions and authorizations for archeology projects.
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Step 5. Possess the necessary qualities to become an archaeologist

If you want to be an archaeologist, it is ideal that you possess or acquire the necessary qualities to succeed in this career. Remember that archeology is not a lonely journey, and that you will benefit greatly from working as a team. Here are some of the qualities needed for success:

  • Ability to work well with others: Whether you're leading a team or just joining one, being able to give or take orders and work in a collaborative environment can help you pursue that career.
  • Investigative Skills: The inquisitive and investigative mind required for a career goes far beyond your field work. For success in Archeology, you will need to carry out extensive research and will have to learn to apply the knowledge gained in the field as well.
  • Critical Thinking: You must also be able to think critically, developing an understanding of laboratory experiments and field observations.
  • Analytical skills: it will be important to know how to use the scientific method and how to analyze the data to go deeper in the pursuit of the proposed objectives.
  • Writing Skills: Contrary to common sense, archaeologists don't spend all their time in the field. They are often found in the process of writing about their findings in reports, publishing their results in academic journals or general interest publications.
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Step 6. Learn to develop cultural sensitivity

If you are going to work in foreign countries, you will need to be aware of local customs and expectations. At any time when visiting a foreign place, the natives will see you as an ambassador for their country or for their educational institution, ending up making generalized judgments concerning your behavior. Be sure to keep an open mind and respect always on display in order to represent both yourself and your home country well.

Part 2 of 3: Getting Experience

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Step 1. Prepare to work hard on your job search

Although archeology encompasses an incredibly broad field of study and with few active professionals, the market is still restricted. The main reason behind the limitation in the performance of this function is the lack of incentive for research in the area. However, with the emergence of environmental laws, the presence of professional archaeologists has increased considerably in environmental impact processes. In this way, many people don't become archaeologists in search of glory or a high payroll - they do so because of their fascination with ancient artifacts and their love of learning how other peoples lived thousands of years in the past. If you consider yourself truly passionate about your career, your efforts will lead you on the right path.

  • Before building any civil constructions in the country, it is necessary to obtain a technical report guaranteeing that the work in question will not cause damage to the environment or compromise a historical and archaeological heritage. At this point, it is up to the archaeologist to take responsibility for this report, which is an opportunity for growth in this situation due to the large number of works that need these studies. The public sector also demands archaeologists from bodies such as IPHAN, INCRA and the Public Ministry.
  • The archaeologist's starting salary in Brazil is R$1,500 a month.
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Step 2. Do volunteer work

While the ideal scenario involves finding a job in your field right away, it can sometimes be the case that there is too much supply and too little demand, depending on the place of comparison. Thus, volunteering is a great way to gain experience, create professional ties and connections, and get to know the field with the very groups of people who will represent your future work environment. Don't be discouraged if you can't find paid work right from the start - you can find excellent project opportunities in the pre- and post-excavation stages, or even in investigative internships, which will open the door to paid positions even sooner than expected..

  • Keep in mind that volunteer work is a strong component of an archaeological career. Even the most experienced archaeologists volunteer themselves in a variety of ways, such as serving on archeological committees, editing newspapers and publications, or organizing events.
  • To find out about available places, contact the heritage and archeology institutes in your region and across the country. The area of ​​preservation and recovery of cultural heritage concentrates many opportunities, but private action with engineering companies has also grown considerably. Among the main archeological sites in the country, there are several options in the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás and Piauí.
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Step 3. Find a paid job opening

Getting hired full-time immediately after graduating in archeology is relatively difficult - but not impossible.

  • Through contact with public and private organizations and institutions that are associated at some level with archaeological work, it is possible to discover that the field of Archeology in Brazil is full of possibilities. Many of these institutions keep the constant dissemination of news related to the labor market. Keep an eye out.
  • If you have just completed a Masters or Ph.D., ask professors and peers to advise you of any openings that arise. It is essential to create bonds with both current and future professionals for a successful archeological career.
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Step 4. Climb more steps in your career

Once you've made it through your field job journeys, look to excel in leadership or management positions, such as team leader, that will give you a head start and even more hands-on experience. The best way to stand out in the job application process is not only to demonstrate that you are a hardworking and reliable person, but also to specialize within a specific field of Archeology, so that your experience and knowledge are more valuable than those present in an average candidate.

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Step 5. Specialize

Taking a specialization course will allow you to gain more knowledge relating to a specific area of ​​study and become a valuable human material in future archaeological excavations. You can specialize by doing more research in a field, learning to use the tools you need to study an area, and training under the supervision of experts in the knowledge domain in question. Some specializations within the field of archeology include pottery, osteology (study of bones), numismatics (study of coins), and lithics (study of stone tools).

  • Depending on which area you prefer to specialize in, you may prefer to learn the ancient languages ​​that were spoken in that particular area. For example, if you are interested in becoming an Egyptologist, you might perhaps consider learning Arabic and the ancient languages ​​(hieroglyph, demotic and Coptic).
  • If you choose to specialize in Classical Studies (Ancient Rome and Greece), you may want to consider learning Italian - Latin and Ancient Greek are crucial requirements. If you wish to visit archaeological sites in other Latin American countries, improve your Spanish knowledge and learn any dialects important to the native culture.
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Step 6. Publish and advance in your area

If you want to go up in the world as an archaeologist, it is essential to publish your work in reputable newspapers and magazines evaluated by professionals. Submitting written work to academic journals should become a regular habit for you with respect to your own findings. Once you have published your own work, you will be developing your reputation, and you can even take your career to new levels by becoming a teacher or working in another administrative position in the field.

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Step 7. Advance the field by taking on more responsibility for digging

Another way to step forward to further move your career is to take more dig leadership positions. As you gain experience, you can become an area supervisor, a position that will require you to organize and manage all aspects of the excavation, from bottom to top. This will require you to work longer hours, but will allow you to advance your career and gain even more extensive knowledge regarding the entire digging process.

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Step 8. Consider working in a field related to yours

Once you have established yourself as a traditional archaeologist, or soon after realizing that you want a job involving less travel and a more fixed workload, you may start thinking about using your Archeology degree in a similar field that you can still enjoy. of his love for the area, but making his workload a little more regularized. Some other options to consider are:

  • College professor:

    many archaeologists have as their ultimate goal to find a definitive position at a university. It allows them a full-time job, with several added benefits. They will teach throughout the year and, in many cases, will choose to spend their vacation digging. This helps to create greater balance in their lives, making their professional position more stable than in the case of independent hires.

  • Museum Curator:

    curators work full time to preserve and maintain exhibits related to work found in their fields. Their work may include producing research, publishing results, holding public presentations and exhibiting exhibitions.

  • Private sector archaeologist:

    rather than working for a public university or other government institution, many archaeologists can find employment in the private sector, which may include working at archaeological sites that are legally mandated to be excavated prior to site destruction or renovation.

  • Administration and protection of archaeological sites:

    their job, in that case, would be to protect and maintain the archaeological sites, rather than excavating them, which can range from helping with tours of the area to ensuring that it is closed to the public.

Part 3 of 3: Working

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Step 1. Prepare for a lot of travel

Nobody said that being an archaeologist includes a free schedule. If you're committed to work, you should be prepared to spend a lot of time away from home. You can go on digs that keep you away from your family for months, or even longer, and it's essential to be prepared for that. Archaeologists often claim that finding the balance between family and work can prove to be quite challenging - however, keep in mind that you can find a career path with more stable and regular hours if you don't intend to invest your time in digging. archaeological.

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Step 2. Be prepared to spend a lot of time outdoors

If you want to be an archaeologist, you probably really enjoy spending time with nature. It's important that you don't worry about living in tents for months, never feeling completely clean, and having to deal with elements like snakes, intense heat, or physical discomfort. It's all part of the fun of getting work in an exciting new location, and you should be prepared for that part of the job if you're really committed.

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Step 3. Prepare to face the elements

While you may not be Indiana Jones yourself, you should be well-prepared to regularly encounter dangerous creatures such as snakes, spiders, and other wild animals. You may even find yourself entering drug fields or manufacturing areas during topographical surveys. You need to be prepared and with an airy mind in order to stay calm even in situations like these.

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Step 4. Wake up early

Most archaeologists need to get up early, at 4 or 5 in the morning, to start the day's work. They often start activity in the dark, when it is not always possible to see what lies ahead. This is because they want to invest a productive eight hours of work and prefer to escape as much of the hot afternoon sun as possible. During the workday, there are several snack breaks so that you will have short periods of relaxation over time.

As an accommodation, you may find yourself sleeping in tents in the excavation area itself, or staying far enough away that a short bus ride or other means of transport is needed with each return trip

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Step 5. Keep yourself physically fit

Field work can be tiring. You may find yourself on uncomfortable terrain and fickle climates for several weeks on each occasion, and in isolated locations. If you are committed to this career, you will need to keep in shape through regular exercise that includes strength and cardiovascular training. Your job will require you to develop enough stamina to invest 8 hours a day digging in the sun, so it's essential to stay strong and resilient. You might not think the physical aspect of archaeologists' lives is so draining, but it's more demanding than it might appear in photographs.

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Step 6. Excavate a site carefully

An excavation represents much more than a search for artifacts. It is actually the carefully planned destruction of a place. Archaeologists know that once a site is excavated, it can never be reverted to its original state, so this destruction must be carefully mapped and planned for each step along its path. Team members typically dig approximately 5 to 10 cm at a time, taking care to record each layer discovered, as they will never again be able to revert the site to its original state.

  • You should familiarize yourself with excavation planning before you even start your workday.
  • Excavation is done using shovels, spatulas, brushes and other specialized tools.
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Step 7. Dig artifacts

Many people have the misconception that archaeologists dig up dinosaur bones. In fact, they look for artifacts, not bones - bones are excavated by paleontologists. During your work in the field, you will possibly be able to excavate some artifacts, such as arrowheads or pottery. Next, you need to follow careful procedures in order to carefully document and store your findings. It is important to use the tools correctly to ensure that artifacts are preserved, enabling further studies and care.

  • Some team members even draw or photograph the floors and walls for the purpose of keeping track of the layers that would be removed next.
  • Some photograph the artifacts found and map their location of origin to the rest of the excavation unit.
  • Some technicians collect data with GPS receivers, mapping the site and its boundaries digitally.
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Step 8. Make careful notes

As you work on an excavation site, you may need to take notes, making sure to record every little item found, even if it seems insignificant at the time. You should keep notes on everything about the found object: what it looked like, where it was found, what the composition of the soil around the area is, what objects surrounded it, and anything else that stands out with archaeological importance. Think of yourself as a detective, unearthing mysteries that may be hundreds or even thousands of years old.

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Step 9. Analyze your data in the laboratory

You might think that being an archaeologist is basically about digging up artifacts - however, there is a lot of analysis required aside from the excavation. Once the fieldwork is done, you will need to sort, clean and catalog your findings. Next, you will need to organize the data and finalize the written reports. While being in the field is considered the most fun part of the job, you will also have to do a lot of paperwork - just as in any other field.

Most archaeologists spend more time in the laboratory, analyzing data, than in excavations. However, this part of the career, which allows you to bring together everything that has been unearthed, can prove to be as exciting and rewarding as the career itself


  • Keep a notebook to record your discoveries and adventures. Write about everything that intrigues you.
  • While there are good job opportunities, you may want to consider furthering your education with a master's or doctoral degree to find even better options. Also, if you want to transfer your knowledge to teaching, remember that many universities require training at this level for their teachers.
  • Always remember that the archeological method that exists in films, such as Indiana Jones, does not represent the reality of how archeology is practiced. You must always stay in shape and wear proper clothing and equipment.


  • the real archeology not it is as represented in the Indiana Jones movies. Approximately 70% of your time will be spent in a library, studying.
  • You need to be in excellent physical shape. Although fieldwork doesn't seem so difficult on television, working 8 hours a day in the sun can wear out your body much more quickly than you might think.
  • A career in archeology is rewarding. Most archaeologists are professors, museum staff or government consultants. These jobs can be hard to get, so it's important to think creatively when it comes to finding a job.

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