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:
- British Archaeological Jobs Resource (BAJR) lists archaeology jobs and much more
- Think outside to box – browse Creative Scotland Opportunities
- Some archaeologists work in museums and galleries – the University of Leicester – Jobs Desk is the main place for finding these
- Get great advice on ‘getting started’ from Chartered Institute of Archaeologists
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
- Go to loads of events to find out who’s who, and to keep up-to-date with issues and methods of archaeology in Scotland, such as the annual Archaeological Research in Progress conference, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland‘s lecture series, Scottish Archaeology Month, the Scottish Living History Festival, and Scotland’s annual Community Heritage Conference in November (here is the link to the 2018 conference and watch this space for news of the 2019 one). If you want to find more go to Dig It! Scotland for events and stories in Scotland.
- 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
- Historic Environment Scotland provides some apprenticeships, fellowships and internships, for example at The Engine Shed in Stirling. Tip: use ‘apprentice’, ‘fellowship’ or ‘intern’ as key words to search the list of latest vacancies
- 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:
- Network (also known as ‘learn some acronyms’)!
- Some heritage and heritage learning groups and networks are free, and some have a yearly membership and/or event fees. Check out: Engage Scotland; Heritage Education Forum; Group for Education in Museums (GEM) (which includes a fantastic email list); the Museums Association (MA); the Scottish Museums Federation (SMF); and Scottish Heritage Social Media Group (SHSMG)
- Keep an eye on Museums Galleries Scotland’s webpage for their upcoming ‘Strategic Learning Platform’
- The Linnaeus University has this awesome reading list to get you started
- An excellent, free ebook! Moshenska, Gabriel (ed), 2017. Key Concepts in Public Archaeology UCL Press, London
- Check out our blog post on online courses for people with an interest in archaeology and learning: Get Learning! Easy wins for Professional Development
- 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.
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)
……..to inspire the discovery, exploration, stewardship and enjoyment of Scotland’s past.
Archaeology Scotland, Suite 1a, Stuart House, Eskmills, Station Road, Musselburgh EH21 7PB
Registered Scottish Charity No. SC001723, Company Registered in Scotland No. 262056
Tel: 0300 012 9878 www.archaeologyscotland.org.uk