Pathways into Archaeology

Whether you are just starting your career or considering a change of direction, archaeology is a rewarding and exciting choice, with many different specialisms, opportunities for travel, and the job satisfaction that comes from discovery.

In the archaeology sector, you will work alongside and learn from passionate and extraordinary people. The skills you will gain from studying archaeology will enrich your life and prepare you well for the job market.   

Pathway Videos  

There are various routes into a career in archaeology. In 2020, with support from the Royal Archaeological Institute, the CBA produced three films that look at these different pathways. Watch these films to hear firsthand from individuals just starting their journey and archaeology professionals reflecting on their experiences. You can also download the accompanying careers flyer. 



 For more information, you can also visit our dedicated page on university and apprenticeships.   

Different Pathways


Not sure whether archaeology is for you? Volunteering is a great way to get hands-on experience, sample different tasks, and learn new skills. Many fieldwork projects welcome volunteers, offering you the chance to try techniques such as geophysics, landscape survey, and excavation.

There are also plenty of opportunities to gain experience working with historic buildings or archaeological artefacts – get in touch with museums and heritage organisations in your area. 


What do Archaeologists do? 

Archaeology is a sector of varied employment that draws upon a huge variety of skills. Whilst there are options to go and excavate sites, an archaeologist can also be desk-based and undertake a broad selection of tasks. Some examples are archival work, scientific study of remains, illustrating finds, managing databases, conserving artefacts, curating exhibitions, and teaching students!  

A Day in Archaeology showcases "a day in the life" of archaeologists from all over the UK. These snapshots provide a great introduction to the people who work in the discipline and the numerous different roles they carry out. Our contributors also share the paths they took to get to where they are today.  

Where do Archaeologists Work? 

As archaeologists work in many different types of employment, they also work for different organisations.

National Agencies National Agencies
They can be found in national agencies, which work to bring about long-term preservation and widespread understanding of the historic environment, such as English HeritageHistoric ScotlandCadw, and the Department for Communities (Northern Ireland).  
Teaching and research instutions Teaching and research instutions
They can be found in teaching and research institutions such as Universities; County and City Councils; national organisations such as National Parks, the Environment Agency, and the Highways Agency; and as curators and conservators in museums. Lots of commercial planning and development consultancies also have an archaeological team. 
Authorities who undertake excavations Authorities who undertake excavations
They do of course excavate archaeological sites throughout the UK, working for local authority archaeological units, commercial organisations such as MoLASWessex ArchaeologyOxford Archaeology, and other organisations that undertake aspects of commercially related development archaeology.