Opportunities in Archaeology: Careers Advice

We’re always happy to help career starters!

We get a lot of requests for careers advice, so we’ve created this blog post for people who are interested in  heritage – in particular archaeology –  and are unsure what a job might look like. This resource should provide a good insight into a variety of potential career options that aren’t just digging!

Our best advice? Get experience in as many different areas as possible, such as: basic spreadsheet management, facilitation,  and how to run social media accounts as an organisation’s ‘voice’.

This is a live resource: we’ll add to it or change it as and when it’s needed.


Keep these webpages in mind when you’re looking for a new position:





  • Some archaeologists work in museums and galleries – the University of Leicester – Jobs Desk is the main place for finding these



Internships and voluntary positions


Internships run for specific period of time and are usually paid. Voluntary positions are more casual, and are unpaid positions. However, while volunteering you can expect to be reimbursed for reasonable expenses such as travel (i.e. a bus ticket), and subsistence, such as a sandwich lunch.


  • Find out if you want to give an organisation your free time by asking to see their Volunteer Policy before you apply. This will give you a better understanding of their ethos- rationale for engaging volunteers


  • Create your own opportunities: BAJR’s UK Directory of organisations (from contractors to local societies) and a list of museums are the best way to understand what is nearby



  • Are you a student? If so, ask your institution for help gaining experience. If you’re still in high school and are feeling stuck with what to do for your work experience, don’t forget that you can ask to do a museum or archaeology placement. University students – get in touch with your careers advisor. Most universities offer this service to graduates, too, up to two years after graduation



  • Museums Galleries Scotland runs a skills development programme for volunteers which includes 1-3 day training courses, informal workshops for sharing resources and other events across Edinburgh. You can also check out their Skills for Success internship programme for a more in-depth experience




Excavation opportunities


  • Current Archaeology – ‘Go Digging!’ page has a wide range of excavating opportunities and field schools to browse through; if you’re short on cash or time this list is really handy as you can filter your search by price and duration, there are even some free digs!


  • If you’re a keen explorer and want to see more of the world (or just get a bit more sun) then Xchange Scotland is well worth looking into. Their website has so many advertisements for spaces on foreign field schools it can be difficult to choose which one to pick, but with the durations clearly marked it makes it a little easier to filter them down


  • The National Trust for Scotland runs a variety of camps which are a great way to gain hands-on experience in heritage and conservation while also learning practical skills, not to mention it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet people from all over the world and make lasting friendships! Check out their Trailblazer and Thistle camps


  • Archaeology Skills Passport is ‘a guided pathway to a career in archaeology’. Use it to keep track of your skills and as a portfolio endorsed by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and Archaeological Training Forum.

On Archaeology Scotland’s Learning Team, our specialty is archaeology and learning


‘Learning’ is informal education, also known as interpretation. The overall aims are social inclusivity and increasing conservation and stewardship. To do this, learning professionals engage with others in interesting and friendly ways, trying to ignite people’s interest in a subject (or keep it burning if it’s already there). Archaeology Learning is also known as Public Archaeology. It is one of the many subsets of environmental education and and closely linked to museum studies. Tasks include translating real archaeological data and methods into authentic learning experiences by holding public events, learning sessions aimed at groups of learners, and creating resources for educators and/or learners.


Here are our top tips:



  • Find your values – in learning theory: ‘Co-constructivism’, ‘youthwork-led practice’ and ‘engagement’ (e.g. community engagement or youth engagement) are the theories and practices behind much of our work. Go ahead and have a Google.
  • In this line of work, it helps to be creative! Check out National Galleries of Scotland’s video on Creative Careers to get an idea of different job roles:


Send us a note of interest if you like the sound of this: we’re starting up ‘Archaeological Learning Network’ (that is its working title), bringing together career starters, archaeology learning experts and educators.


Cover Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash


Author: Rebecca Boyde is the Youth Engagement Officer at Archaeology Scotland

with special thanks to Gillian Maxwell, Archaeology student at the University of Edinburgh and an intern at Archaeology Scotland (June 2019)


Posted by: Rebecca Boyde

version 1 (11/06/2019)


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……..to inspire the discovery, exploration, stewardship and enjoyment of Scotland’s past.

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Tel: 0300 012 9878   www.archaeologyscotland.org.uk

Post Author: r.boyde