Archaeologist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does an Archaeologist Do?

An archaeologist studies the origin and evolution of humans. They excavate, recover, and analyze physical evidence of human culture by examining artifacts, like tools, buildings, burial sites, pottery, and clothing. Archaeologists can work for research organizations, consulting and cultural resource management firms, government agencies, and museums. They must have perseverance and be passionate about history and the development of the human species.

Typical duties for an archaeologist include conducting excavations, performing research and testing, maintaining inventories, and preparing sketch maps and field drawings. Archaeologists are also responsible for making presentations and consulting with their project teams, making good verbal communication and writing skills a must. Critical thinking and active listening skills are also extremely valuable in this position.

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National Average Salary

Archaeologist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for an Archaeologist is:


Archaeologist Job Descriptions

The key to attracting the ideal archaeologist often lies in the job description. To make this task easier, we have curated a selection of examples that can be used as templates, ensuring you set the right foundation for your talent search.

Example 1

ABC Company is actively seeking an experienced Archaeologist to be based in (city, state) office.

The ideal candidate must have knowledge of basic field excavation techniques, ability to process (wash, catalog and mark) recovered archaeological artifacts, properly fill out field and laboratory forms, perform extensive manual labor including excavation with shovels and moving buckets and wheelbarrows filled with dirt. Must have a tolerance for working in outdoor environments, prolonged walking and standing on various terrain in a wide range of weather conditions.

The candidate will be well versed in standard archaeological techniques to include the excavation of shovel test pits and test units for all phases of archaeological investigations and must be prepared for field, lab, and office tasks.

The responsibilities of this position include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Performs archaeological fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and documentation.
  • Works under direction of Crew Chiefs, Field Director, Lab Supervisor, and Principal Investigator.
  • Works with technical field, lab and office staff, managers, and administrative staff to ensure that projects meet ABC Company quality standards.
  • Responsible for supporting supervisors as needed on a project basis- this could include providing graphic support, writing, travel coordination, project/paperwork organizational support, and pulling together the equipment for field projects as directed by supervisors.
  • Performs data entry and artifact labeling.
  • Copies records for curation.
  • May build or repair field/lab equipment.

Minimum requirements

  • BA or BS in Anthropology, Archaeology or a related field or demonstrated equivalency of experience and /or education.
  • Valid Driver’s License required.
  • Due to the nature of this role, US citizenship is required.

Preferred qualifications

  • Two years of undergraduate courses in Anthropology, Archaeology, History, or related field.
  • A minimum of 1 year of experience in archaeological fieldwork and analysis or demonstrated equivalent combination of education, skills, knowledge, abilities, and experience.
  • GPS data collection, Total Station, digital field data collection (ArcCollector, Survey123, Fulcrum, or comparable), MS Office, MS Access.
  • Completion of a university-based archaeological field school preferred.
  • Field staff must have the ability to communicate clearly and work well with others. Must be able to extensively perform bending, kneeling standing and lifting and carrying objects weighing up to 50 lbs.

Example 2

We are looking for Archaeologists to join the Archaeology Group based in our (city, state) office to facilitate ongoing archaeological projects. This is an “as needed” position. Qualified candidates will help augment our teams in the southeast but may lead to additional work with ABC Company Archaeology Groups across the country.

Essential roles and responsibilities

  • Follow safety rules, guidelines and standards for all projects. Participate in pre-task planning. Report any safety issues or concerns to management.
  • Be responsible for maintaining quality standards on all projects.
  • Excavation of standard shovel tests or test units.
  • Documentation of testing results, including ability to draw a site map.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of archaeological survey and excavation.
  • Perform quality control on field documents daily.

Preferred qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology or a related field.
  • Six months professional archaeological experience in the southeastern United States.
  • Professional experience working on solar farms, commercial developments, and communications tower projects.
  • Phase I, II, and/or III level experience.
  • Experience working in CRM.
  • Archaeological experience in South Florida.

Required qualifications

  • Ability to travel for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to recognize Pre-Contact and Historic artifacts and cultural features.
  • Familiarity or knowledge of handheld GPS systems.
  • Ability to adequately document field work on standard field forms.
  • Flexibility to work various schedules depending on client needs.
  • Ability to work and communicate with others in various environmental settings.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely using both written and verbal skills.
  • Ability to multi-task within flexible/fluid schedules and project needs.
  • Ability to perform physically demanding tasks such as lifting and walking on uneven surfaces carrying at least 20 lbs. of equipment, and ability to work in extreme (hot/cold) weather conditions.
  • Eligibility to work in the United States without sponsorship.
  • Ability to pass drug screening.
  • Possession of a U.S. driver’s license, with acceptable violation history.

Example 3

The objective of the Archaeologist position is a qualified individual to assist senior archaeologists in GIS and data management, fieldwork, laboratory analysis, monitoring, and preparation of technical reports and environmental documents. Duties will include conducting and compiling background research, survey, testing, evaluation, data recovery, and construction monitoring, laboratory work, assistance with report preparation as well as other tasks as assigned. Position requires excellent field skills, artifact analyses, keeping of field notes and records, and writing key sections of reports (methods, results, artifact analyses).


  • Assist in the completion of studies and compliance approaches toward acquisition of permits and clearances (for federal, state, and local laws and regulations) or resource management plans. Support and coordinate technical work in archaeology.
  • Evaluate resources for California and National Registers.
  • Write and produce reports or documents.
  • Assist in coordination of projects related to environmental compliance and resource management, including schedule, personnel allocation/planning, technical approach development, and subcontractor involvement.
  • Assist senior-level resource lead and provide technical support in field and office settings. Includes: assisting with development of resource management recommendations, assessing project effects on resources, and providing support to address complex resource problems and issues that require advanced technical or regulatory knowledge.
  • Collaborate in an integrated team with engineers, scientists, planners, regulators, and other stakeholders.

Required qualifications

  • Master’s degree in Anthropology, Archaeology or related field.
  • Registered Professional Archaeologist
  • GIS Certificate
  • 2+ years of field experience in archaeological surveys and reconnaissance
  • Knowledge of GPS equipment and applications is critical
  • Familiarity with southern California cultural resources and associated regulatory environment.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • A history of working with private, public sector clients, and regulatory agencies.
  • Ability to translate between science, planning, engineering, and policy.
  • A blend of strategic and tactical thinking as a well-rounded consultant.
  • A desire to excel and passion for rewarding work on complex environmental challenges.
  • Working knowledge of CEQA, NEPA, NHPA, and other state and federal environmental regulations.
  • Use of MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
  • Knowledge of GPS applications in the field
  • Must have valid driver’s license and successfully pass a Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) check.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Why did you decide to become an archaeologist?
  • What are some of the most important skills for an archaeologist?
  • What is your experience with using archaeological technology?
  • Are you comfortable working in the field for long periods of time?
  • Provide an example of a time when you had to collaborate with other professionals to complete an archaeological project.
  • What kind of experience do you have studying objects and structures recovered by excavation to identify, date, and authenticate them and to interpret their significance?
  • What is a method you use to compare findings from one site with archeological data from other sites to find similarities or differences? Have you tried other methods?
  • What would you do if you discovered something unexpected while excavating a site?
  • How well do you communicate your findings to the general public?
  • If hired, what would be your primary area of focus?

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