Education and Training Requirements

High School

Follow your high school's college prep program to prepare for undergraduate and graduate programs in archaeology. You should study English composition and literature to develop your writing and interpretation skills. Foreign language skills will also help you in later research in other countries. Take classes in history and art to learn more about ancient and classical civilizations. Although it may seem that you'll be working mostly with ancient artifacts, you'll need computer skills to work with the many advanced technologies used in archaeological excavations. Mathematics and science courses can help you develop the skills you'll need in analyzing information and statistics.

Postsecondary Training

Most of the better positions in archaeology require a doctorate, which takes about four to six years of work beyond the bachelor's degree. Before beginning graduate work, however, you will study such basic courses as psychology, sociology, history, geography, mathematics, logic, English composition, and literature, as well as modern and ancient languages. Archaeology departments are typically part of anthropology departments; few separate archaeology departments exist in U.S. colleges and universities. As a student of archaeology, you'll follow a program that involves many disciplines, including art, architecture, classics, and history.

Because most archaeology graduates receive their first jobs through their graduate work, you should select a graduate school that has a good program in the area in which you hope to specialize.

Other Education or Training

Many professional associations provide continuing education (CE) opportunities to archaeologists. For example, the Archaeological Institute of America offers workshops and seminars at its annual meeting, which is held jointly with the the American Philological Association. Other organizations that provide CE opportunities include the Association for Environmental Archaeology, Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, and the Society for Archaeological Sciences.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The Register of Professional Archaeologists offers voluntary registration to archaeologists who agree to "abide by an explicit code of conduct and standards of research performance." Registration requires an archaeologist to "hold a graduate degree in archaeology, anthropology, or another related discipline (including but not limited to art history, classics, history, or museum studies) and have completed a thesis or dissertation, or its equivalent, that addresses a substantive archaeological question."

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience as possible by participating in summer internships and archaeological fieldwork.

To succeed in archaeology, you need to be able to work well as part of a team and on your own. In order to be passionate about your study and research, you should be naturally curious and have a desire for knowledge. Communication skills are paramount, both for writing your reports and presenting your findings clearly and completely to professionals in the field.