Are you a fan of digging in the dirt looking for old objects? Are you passionate about historical societies and cultures but just as interested in lab work? If so, you may want to consider a major in archaeology.
Archaeology is the study of cultures from the new and old past, a study done primarily by analyzing evidence such as human remains or artefacts excavated from sites. Archaeologists are different from anthropologists in that they find and analyze physical evidence of past societies while anthropologists focus on how societies have changed over time in areas such as language. Anthropologists utilize the evidence found by archaeologists. In that way, archaeologists and anthropologists work together to produce information in their fields.
A major in archaeology begins with a mix of science and history classes. Students learn how to search for, recognize, and analyze the remains of ancient societies. They will also learn basic archaeological research methods.
Because of the nature of archaeology, students will take plenty of classes that include field work and lab work. If the prospect of digging for hours under the hot sun makes you cringe, this is likely the wrong major.
Students who major in archaeology have more job prospects than just becoming archaeologists, but if you aspire to more than being an assistant in lab work or at excavations, you will need to attain a master’s in archaeology for one of the following jobs.
Students who enjoy research and writing papers but find that they do not enjoy fieldwork may become academic researchers. Academic researchers write and publish books or papers in acclaimed journals. Majors could produce literature in the field of archaeology and attend conferences with fellow researchers. Most people in this job are hired at universities, and spend part of their time teaching and part researching.
Majors interested in science but less in fieldwork or the historical aspect of the field may enjoy being conservators. Conservators work at museums, galleries, or freelance where needed to preserve or restore artefacts. This requires a deep knowledge of the scientific methods required for object restoration and preservation.
Students may also become heritage managers, people who are responsible for protecting and maintaining cultural sites. Heritage managers do everything from organizing the physical upkeep of sites to creating ways for an area to profit off of the site. This may include managing projects such as tourist shops and allowing movies to be filmed at a site. Managers have the constant job of preserving the cultural integrity of a site while also ensuring a stable income.
Similarly, students may become historic building inspectors or conservationists. An inspector advises communities on how to conserve culturally-important buildings or sites. They may oversee or help plan restoration projects for sites or maintain long-term care of sites where needed.
Another option is to become a museum curator. Curators handle choosing artefacts for collections, organizing display cabinets down to the placards describing an object’s importance, and ensuring the care of artefacts. Oftentimes, curators are also responsible for overseeing other staff members, organizing fundraising programs, dealing with public relations, and creating budgets.
Those interested in education may become museum education officers. The education officer designs programs that will engage audiences such as young children. In this job, you might bring in speakers, design interactive activities, and work with schools to coordinate programs such as field trips to the museum.