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RockerChick14's avatar

How hard is it to become an archaeologist?

Asked by RockerChick14 (948 points ) September 2nd, 2012 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

10 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Well, you need a bachelor’s degree at a minimum to do grunt work, a masters at a minimum for a career, and really a PhD to get hired in a good job. And you have to like doing a lot of field work, which can be very tedious and takes a long time with often little satisfaction.

YARNLADY's avatar

As with any profession, if you enjoy what you are doing, it is easy. If you start out with an interest in History and the origin of things, and you enjoy doing the research and investigation to determine the facts, it will be easy.

It takes at least 4 years to get the basic education, and an additional 2 years education in your specialty. After that, you can usually begin an internship or get an entry position which can be the hardest part, because you are going to be doing the tedious work no one else wants.

There are many different branches of archaeology. Somewhere along the way, you will want to choose the approach you feel most comfortable with.

elbanditoroso's avatar

You have to really dig into your studies.

I think that the real first issue is – what area of archaeology do you want to study? For example – middle east archaeology is a whole different ballgame (and set of skills) from meso-american, or Eskimo, or somewhere else. What interests you?

I think that forensic archaeology is fascinating, but that takes a whole different set of skills and may not be seen as “true” academic archaeology.

But you’ll need to have some chemistry, some physics, some anthropology, and lots of history coursework for starters.

gailcalled's avatar

My cousin Joanie, after her three children were launched, got a PhD in Urban Archaeology and has carved a unique niche in NYC and NJ. Whenever there are excavations, from Trump-sized craters to small homes on City Isiand, she is called in whenever anything even remotely interesting is unearthed.

Here’s her job description and career track

Her client list includes a film consultantancy

Earthgirl's avatar

@gailcalled That’s great about your sister. You made me think of this guy Scott Jordan that I met at the Columbus Avenue Flea market. He is so cool with his handlebar moustache and all! He was telling us how he climbs down into old wells and excavates New York City construction sites to find his plunder. Urban archeology!! I love it.

(He even dresses the part with striped shirt, suspenders and bowler hat)

gailcalled's avatar

@Earthgirl: It is great but she’s my cousin and not my sister. She has become a really famous person.

Jordan has also found his niche. Good for him

Earthgirl's avatar

@gailcalled Oops! My memory is getting really bad. Sorry. I don’t know how I got sister out of cousin!

rojo's avatar

I would like to be involved in the field work, the grunt stuff, not necessarily the guts and glory academics.
But, I get the impression you have to either have an independent source of income or be happy with very little. Either way, it sounds like it is hard to do AND maintain any kind of family life.

RockerChick14's avatar

@gailcalled and @Earthgirl – that’s cool that they get to do that :)

gailcalled's avatar

@rojo: Many digs accept volunteers eagerly for the grunt stuff. People doe that on their vacations to be part of the experience without having to worry about the academic difficulties.

LIsts of digs in 2012

”... Some digs take volunteers, some are limited to professionals or student archaeologists, and some are combinations. Some archaeology digs are long term, lasting for months, some are as short as a few days or weeks.”

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