Jamie Stott

How to Get Involved With Archaeology

March 20, 2015, by Jamie Stott, category Ramblings, Video

This is probably one of my most asked about topics and as such, I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post to the topic. I organized this post into ‘STEPS’, which will be numbered so you can jump to the appropriate information that best applies to you. Nifty right?


Archaeology Jamie Stott

  1. STEP ONE: Do you have a degree in anthropology or archaeology?

    1. If yes, the skip down to STEP FIVE.
    2. If no, then keep reading.
      1. If you lack a degree in anthropology/archaeology and are interested in volunteering or learning more, the first thing to do is to get your hands dirty. You need to find out if archaeology is just a rewarding hobby or possibly your future career. Get your head around the basics by clicking HERE. Once you’re done with that continue to STEP TWO.
  2. STEP TWO: Volunteering in archaeology. 

    1. Most, if not all states have a Statewide Archaeology Society that is intended to promote interest and education in archaeology. They can provide you with the appropriate literature and direct you to possible volunteer opportunities happening in your area.
      1. To find your local archaeology society, click HERE. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, do an old fashioned Google search.
    2. Visit the Society for American Archaeology’s page entitled “FAQ Getting Involved” by clicking HERE. They delve into the basics and can direct you further based on your inquiry.
    3. Visit the Archaeological Institute of America and their ‘Fieldwork’ page by clicking HERE. They provide volunteer opportunities for all sorts of experience levels.
    4. Looking for a more rigid educational experience? Continue to STEP THREE.
  3. STEP THREE: Get some informal archaeology education. 

    1. Not quite ready to take courses at your local community college or university? No worries. There are several institutions throughout the U.S. that offer opportunities to expand your skill set whether you’re a kid or an old timer. Heads up though, you’ll likely be paying for these educational opportunities. I’ve listed a couple below to get you started.
      1. The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center is a research and education compound located near Cortez, Colorado. You can sign up for something simple like a day course, or stay for the entire summer…it’s pretty much up to you. Crow Canyon has a suite of professionals dedicated to archaeology and public outreach, so you’ll definitely be in good hands!
      2. The Exploring Joara Foundation is a research and education station located in western North Carolina. They offer field schools (for both students and non-students), summer camps, and teacher workshops. Surf their site to see if it’s the right fit for you.
    2. Still digging archaeology? Better continue to STEP FOUR.
  4. STEP FOUR: Apply to community college or university. 

    1. If everything listed above has your piqued your love for past then you should definitely take the plunge and get yourself a formal education in archaeology. Most institutions offer bachelor’s degrees in either anthropology or archaeology, it just depends on where you end up going.
    2. To choose the right college or university you need to answer the following questions:
      1. What do I want to specialize in?
        1. Will you be a Mesoamerican archaeologist (focusing on the archaeology of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica)? Will you be a classical archaeologist (focusing on the great Mediterranean civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome)? Will you be an archaeologist who specializes in behavioral ecology (focusing on adaptive behavior in relation to social and environmental circumstances)?
        2. Figure out what excites your brain parts and go for it, because all archaeologists have to have a specialty. There is no such thing as a general degree in archaeology that will let you work anywhere in the world (Indiana Jones might be the only exception). Hate to burst your bubble.
      2. Is there a specific site/fieldwork area I want to work in?
        1. Do you want to get your hands dirty at the Range Creek field station in Utah, or would you rather be working on an underwater shipwreck site off the coast of Crete?
        2. If you have a specific area you want to work at, find out what institutions have established relationships with that cultural site. Because let’s face it, if you pick a school in say, New York, and are hoping to go down and dig at Ceren in El Salvador…it’s likely not going to happen. What you should’ve done is hook up with the University of Colorado. They conduct yearly field expeditions to Ceren. Get what I’m saying?
    3. Once you have an idea of where you want to go academically, put in the leg work. Get online and do some research to find out what colleges/universities fit the bill. Still need help? Don’t hesitate to throw out an email to an academic advisor or even a professor. People are generally happy to share information and point you in the right direction, all you have to do is ask.
    4. Got a lock on your undergraduate program? Good. Continue to STEP FIVE.
  5. STEP FIVE: Have you attended an archaeological field school?

    1. If yes, then skip down to STEP SIX.
    2. If no, then keep reading.
      1. If you’re hoping to use your fancy bachelor’s degree to get a job in archaeology then you’ve got to have a field school in your bag of tricks. Don’t know what a field school is? A field school is a program held during the summer at a specific field site that teaches you hands-on archaeological practices and methodology.
      2. Following what I was emphasizing in STEP FOUR, you’ll want to choose a field school that aligns with your intended specialty. You might’ve hit the easy street jackpot if your chosen college/university hosts a field school that focuses on your specialty or research area. If not, then it’s up to you to find the perfect field school. Ask your professors for guidance, or head back to the internet to get your Google on.
      3. Here are a few resources to help you get started:
        1. To search field schools through Shovel Bums, click HERE.
        2. To search field schools through the American Anthropological Association, click HERE.
      4. If you still need help, watch my Archaeological Field School 411 video on YouTube.

  6. STEP SIX: Get a job ya filthy animal!

    1. By now your brain is probably bursting with all your new found experience and knowledge, might as well put it all to good use and get yourself a job. Odds are that you’ll end up as a shovel bum. Shovel bum is an insider term for archaeologists working in cultural resource management.
    2. If you just thought, what the hell is cultural resource management, don’t worry, I’m getting to that. Cultural Resource Management (CRM), is private sector work and is generally thought of as the bread and butter industry for archaeologists. Read more about CRM by clicking HERE.
    3.  To find out which CRM companies are hiring in your area try these resources:
      1. Ask your colleagues! Most folks in the academic world are in touch with local CRM companies and can provide you with a name or even contact information. This is likely the easiest and most simple way to find a job in archaeology. It’s ALL about who you know. Never forget that nugget.
      2. Visit ArchaeologyFieldwork.com, this is a massive online hub where various CRM organizations around the U.S. post fieldwork opportunities.
      3. Head back to ShovelBums.org and search under their Jobs tab. This is another online center where you are likely to find gainful employment.
    4. Private sector work isn’t your only option, you should also consider checking out archaeology opportunities in the public sector. In case you are daft, I’m talking about state and federal employment. These jobs are slightly more difficult to come by and slightly more difficult to get hired for, but that shouldn’t discourage you. Most archaeologists who nab a job in the public sector are often in it for life…because lets face it, who would want to quit a nice cushy sate or federal position?
    5. To search for archaeology jobs in the public sector try these resources:
      1. Visit GovernmentJobs.com, and search by your desired area.
      2. Do a Google search with your state’s name and the phrase ‘government job’.
      3. Or visit USAJobs.gov, which is the mackdaddy of federal job search engines.
      4. Be sure to use the following keywords during your searches:
        1. Archaeology, archeology, anthropology, heritage, cultural, and museum.
    6. If you need more clarification, watch my Archaeology as a Career video on YouTube.


That should about cover it. If you have a burning question that I didn’t answer, feel free to reach out via the Contact tab, or shoot me an email at info@jamiestott.com. If you have a useful archaeological resource that might help others in their quest I’d love to hear about it or add it to my list. Thanks for reading and best of luck in your archaeological adventures!



  1. Abbey Walker |

    Hey just discovered this page and am so so grateful! I’m an undergraduate archaeology major and recently have been so stressed about eventually finding a job and actually being able to make a living off of archaeology, but this has been a real encouragement!
    The list of society memberships by state was especially helpful.
    Thanks a bunch!

    • Jamie Stott |

      Fantastic! Glad to help Abbey. Best way to get involved is to just get out there. Best of luck! Jamie


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