Want to get into archaeology?

How to get involved in UK archaeology

You may have watched Time Team, followed the Waterloo Uncovered project, or seen an archaeological excavation taking place close to where you live, but what do you do if you want to get involved in archaeology yourself?

Volunteering in archaeology

There are many opportunities to volunteer in archaeology throughout the UK. The voluntary sector consists of a large, varied and often highly motivated body of people who undertake considerable research into the historic environment. Many local archaeology societies and groups welcome young people along and may have field projects that you can get involved in.

There are also many commercial archaeological companies – it would be worth finding out which companies work in your area and keeping an eye on their websites, as some archaeological companies have open days and special events throughout the year where you can get involved in what they are doing. Some commercial units will accept volunteers and this can provide a great opportunity to work alongside a team of professional archaeologists, although the work is usually of a very fast-pace and short-term nature.

Formal education and a job in archaeology

Many volunteers develop their skills and interest to the extent that they would like to seek formal education and a job in archaeology. At university, the archaeology curriculum will be focussed on delivering knowledge about the past, how it is interpreted, methods and theory. Although practical experience is recognised to be important, universities only have limited time and resources to devote to this. If you are certain you want to be a field archaeologist, consider choosing a university that has a good field school, which will provide digging experience to put on your CV. A graduate job in archaeology is likely to be a fixed-term contract doing archaeological fieldwork. These get you into archaeological employment; from there, it is much easier to get a permanent job.


The following online resources provide up-to-date information on job vacancies and volunteering opportunities in UK archaeology and heritage:

Not in the UK? We’re working on similar guides for getting into other countries archaeology. Watch this space !