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Response about archaeology education, employment, and travel:
I have found that doing archaeology fieldwork is a great way to travel while making the up money to travel some more. I received my formal education through studying anthropology through various universities as well as completing an archaeology field school through Florida Atlantic University in Ecuador. I began doing archaeology fieldwork professionally in 2001, and have worked for around 10 different companies all around the USA since then. It is a great way to be able to travel and work, and you only need to do archaeology for three months a year to be able to travel the world for the rest of the time.
Most forms of archaeology employment in the USA are found in CRM (cultural resource management), which is basically to say professional archaeology in private sector. These jobs pay well if you are a traveler, and do not have many overhead expenses other than your basic necessities. Though the work in CRM is sometimes a little repetitive and is more like a physical labor job than a science, it is the way that most archaeologists in North America make their living. If you do not have a strong back and an iron-will to work through rain storm, cold, snow, hundred degree heat, mosquitos, and snakes then CRM may not be the best direction in archaeology to take. But jobs are plentiful and are not difficult to get, though there is no such thing as "job security." Basically, what most archaeology fieldworkers do is they string together multiple temp-jobs, and move around the country from site to site, which is not very difficult to do if you plan it well. There are also upper level positions in CRM if you are looking for a real career, but they require an upper level degree and can be more like working in business administration than archaeology, as they demand that you sit in an office wearing clean clothes while talking business all day on the telephone. I would not touch one of these jobs, no matter how much I got paid.
Another direction that you can take in archaeology is moving into the academic sector. This work is generally sponsored by a university, museum, or other grant giving body, and is a little more like what most people think archaeology is. This work is vastly more difficult to get into, as you generally have to work your way up through university study and then get really lucky by landing a steady job. I have known many, many people who earned their doctorate degrees in archaeology who cannot get a job outside of CRM. But, at the same time, I have also known many people who put in the hard work and landed steady jobs in archaeology as instructors or professors. It is my opinion that finding success in the academic sector of archaeology depends on the individual and how hard and well they are willing to work.
As for me, I just enjoy doing fieldwork, and do not really have the ambition or plan to move up in archaeology any more than where I stand. I have worked in both the CRM and academic sectors in various countries, and the work itself is often very similar, exempt that the academic excavations seem to move far more slowly and you generally sit around for half the day doing nothing, while in CRM the profit motive has you working very hard through any and all environmental conditions. But, when it comes down to it, for me archaeology fieldwork is an interesting and enjoyable way for me to travel while making up the bean money to travel some more.
I highly recommend this profession if you have the traveling ambition. But I would recommend getting some kind of formal training in archaeology if you wish to go this route. It is difficult to walk onto a job without any schooling or training. But the training that you need in not too extensive. I would recommend taking an archaeology field school, read as much as you can about the work involved in cultural resource management, and test the waters of finding a job. You must be 100% mobile to do this work, as you will find yourself turned into a roving gypsy after your first couple of projects (but I take it that this is what you want hehehe). If you do complete an archaeology field school and you want to try your hand at professional work I may be able to help you find a job to start you out. Or if you have any questions about employment in CRM feel free to ask me.
If you want some more information about archaeology field schools or digging up an education in archaeology you can go to a question that I answered at, Archaeology Field Schools.
I am completely at your disposal to help! So if you want to know anything else please email or Skype me.
Thank you for writing!
P.S. If this information helps you out at all (or if you just appreciate my effort in trying haha) I would love it if you could tell or email a friend or two about Vagabond Journey.com or Song of the Open Road. Thank you!
Question about the possibility of a career in archaeology:
Hello, my name is Janell.. I read your blogs all the time, I'm
addicted! I love what you do; keep doing it. You let the rest of us live
vicariously through you while we have to wait away our time doing boring
necessary things and just daydreaming of the wider world! Until we can get out
there on our own of course.
So, going into college...The only thing I'm certain of studying is foreign language, as far as a serious major I just want anything that will let me travel. In fact I don't know if there is really such a thing, and my plan B is to go traveling anyway.
Anyway, I've been very interested in the archaeology work you talk about. Would you suggest some sort of formal education in archaeology, like taking a class, etc, or just jumping right in without trying to get college credit out of it? Is there any sort of real career in archaeology? I've always found it intriguing but didn't think there was much out there for it. And I can't find anyone near here than can give me a firsthand account of real archaeologyness.
I know you're not exactly a professor of any sorts, but you obviously know something about it and must have talked to people. What do you think?
Love your site,
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