Career Opportunities for Archaeological Studies Majors

There are three main employment areas for archaeologists:

1. Research and government employment. Research archaeologists may be hired by Federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.  State Agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, State Historical Societies, state burial sites preservation programs, and historic preservation programs, typically have one or more archaeologists on staff. Museums and research institutions, such as the Smithsonian, the Field Museum, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center (UW-La Crosse), have staffs of archaeologists.  Some job titles include:

Regional Archaeologist
Research Archaeologist
State Archaeologist
Historic Preservation Officer
Park Ranger
Archaeological Field Technician*
Archaeological Lab Technician*
Museum Technician*
Archaeological Surveyor*
Public Education and Outreach Coordinator
     *Entry-level positions that require only a bachelor's degree.  Other positions require graduate training.

2. Teaching. Most teaching positions are at colleges or universities and typically require a doctorate (Ph.D.) degree.  Teaching specialties include:

Prehistoric Archaeology
Classical Archaeology
Near Eastern or Biblical Archaeology
Historical Archaeology
North American Archaeology
Environmental Archaeology

3. Cultural Resources Management (CRM). State and Federal legislation has created the fastest-growing area for archaeological career opportunities, cultural resources management. CRM archaeologists assist developers and public agencies in meeting the requirements of preservation legislation by contracting their services.  These archaeologists locate previously unknown archaeological resources (sites and artifacts), evaluate the importance of the resources, and if necessary conduct rescue excavations if the remains are threatened by development.  Job titles include:

Contract Archaeologist
Cultural Resources Specialist
Director of a CRM company
Archaeological Field Director
Archaeological Lab Director
Collections Manager
Archaeological Lab Technician*
Archaeological Field Technician*
Public Education and Outreach Coordinator
   *Entry-level positions requiring only an undergraduate degree.

Many professional archaeologists have careers that involve work in more than one of the three major areas mentioned.  For example, an archaeologist who is a university or college professor during the academic year is often involved in research or consulting during the summer.

Archaeological Studies: Also a good choice for those planning careers in other fields.

Many undergraduates choose Archaeological Studies as a major not because it is their career choice, but because it is an interesting, broad-based and challenging Liberal Arts major.  These students go on to careers in business, teaching, communications, legal, or medical professions.


For those of you who are planning on a professional career in archaeology, graduate school, sooner or later, probably is a must. Here is where you will get the chance to not only focus more on archaeology, but also to develop areas of specialization within archaeology. In addition to the specific courses required of all majors (ARC 200, ARC 204, ARC 402, and ARC 499), students who plan to apply to a graduate program in archaeology should try to take the following courses: Physical Anthropology (ANT 102), Bones for the Archaeologist (ARC/ANT 334), Archaeology Lab Methods (ARC 403), History of Archaeology (ARC 433), Cultural Resources Management (ARC 435), and Archaeological Theory (ARC 455).  These courses are not a requirement for graduate school but they are extremely beneficial.  Graduate schools typically require a strong background in cultural anthropology and a knowledge of linguistics, and an anthropology minor is recommended.
The following courses are strongly recommended for students who plan to pursue one of the following graduate-to-professional career areas (to find out more about each course, visit the Archaeology course description or the Anthropology course description pages of this web site):

Cultural Anthropology

Students in the Archaeological Studies program who plan to pursue a graduate program in cultural anthropology are expected to complete the anthropology minor.  Each student interested in a graduate program in this area should consult at length with the UW-L anthropologists, Dr. Susannah Lloyd or Dr. Christine Hippert.

Cultural Resources Management*

ARC 205             North American Archaeology
ARC/ANT 334    Bones for the Archaeologist
ARC 403             Archaeology Lab Methods
ARC 404             Environmental Archaeology
ARC 435             Cultural Resources Management
GEO/ESC 343    Geoarchaeology
*A minor in geoarchaeology is strongly recommended.

Environmental Archaeology*

ANT/ARC 305    Indigenous Agricultural Societies
ARC 403            Archaeology Lab Methods
ARC 404            Environmental Archaeology
GEO/ESC 343    Geoarchaeology
GEO/ESC 425    Biogeography
ESC 221             Introduction to Climate Systems
*A minor in geoarchaeology is strongly recommended.

Forensic Anthropology*

ANT 102               Introduction to Physical Anthropology
BIO 102 or 103    Introductory Biology or General Biology
CHM 103              General Chemistry
Bio 312                Human Anatomy and Physiology
ANT/ARC 334      Bones for the Archaeologist
*A second major or a minor in biology is strongly recommended.

Midwest/Plains Archaeology*

ARC 205             North American Archaeology
ARC 310             Midwest Archaeology
ARC 403             Archaeology Lab Methods
ARC 404             Environmental Archaeology
ANT 343             North American Indians
ARC/ANT 304    Hunter and Gatherer Societies
ARC/ANT 305    Indigenous Agricultural Societies
ARC/ANT 334    Bones for the Archaeologist
*A minor in geoarchaeology is strongly recommended.

Old World Archaeology or Classics*

GEO 304           Geography of Europe
GEO 331           Geography of the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia
ARC/HIS 331    The Ancient Greek World
ARC/HIS 332    Ancient Rome and the Mediterranean
ARC/HIS 340    The Rise and Fall of Ancient Civilizations
ARC 350            Independent Foreign Research in Archaeology
ARC 365            Ancient Egypt
ARC 433            History of Archaeology
*Foreign language expertise will be required (Latin for Classics, French or German for Old World).

Latin American archaeology

ARC/ANT 285     Archaeology of Mexico and Central America
ARC/ANT 353    Maya Civilization
ARC 360             Archaeology of the Andes

At least one course on contemporary cultures in Latin America
In addition to the suggestions given above for those interested in prehistoric archaeology in graduate school, individuals who intend to specialize in Latin American Archaeology should consider the following:
1.    Develop a reading knowledge of Spanish.
2.    A strong background in archaeology and archaeological field work, preferably in Latin America
3.    Knowledge of statistics and computer skills


GEO/ESC 323, geomorphology
GEO/ESC 326, soil morphology and genesis
GEO/ESC 343   geoarchaeology
1.    A strong background in archaeology and archaeology field work
2.    Knowledge of statistics and computer skills are essential.

NOTE: These career tracks are not set in stone.  Students do not need to follow one of these tracks - they are only suggestions.  Students are encouraged to customize their course choices to their particular area of interest, with the assistance of their mentor and/or advisor.

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