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Archaeologist

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Summary of occupation

Archaeologists survey, map and record details about archaeological sites. They organise and carry out field work, including excavation and surface collections. They may clean, conserve, restore, reconstruct and display material found at sites. They may photograph or draw characteristics or artefacts at the site for later analysis. They then analyse things found at the site and document their findings. They will also often write journal articles for publication.

ANZSCO description: Studies human activity in the past, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes (the archaeological record).
Alternative names:
Specialisations:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An archaeologist needs:

  • to enjoy science and research and to remain objective
  • an eye for detail
  • to be willing to live in harsh conditions when doing field work
  • patience, perseverance and determination
  • to be able to work as a team
  • strong written and computing skills.
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Working conditions

An archaeologist may work indoors analysing artefacts and conducting research. They may also undertake field work, outdoors and at various sites - conditions can be harsh and the work will typically involve getting your hands dirty.

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Salary details

On average, archaeologists, classified under social professionals, can expect to earn between $1 250 and $1 499 per week ($65 000 and $77 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an archaeologist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Archaeologists may use technology specially designed for cleaning artefacts. Increasingly, archaeologists are using computer- based technologies, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an archaeologist you need to complete a degree at university majoring in archaeology followed by postgraduate studies in the same field.

​Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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