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Q. What classes should I take in high school to become an archaeologist?
Q. What courses should I take in college to become an archaeologist?
Q. What are the best colleges to attend to become an archaeologist?
Q. Where can I get more information about becoming an archaeologist?

Q. I'm in the 8th grade, and I need all the information I can get about the education requirements for an archaeologist, please!
Q. What advice would you give to someone in seventh grade who wants to be an archaeologist?
Q. What type of courses do you have to take to become an archaeologist?
Q. How old do you have to be to become an archaeologist?
Q. How can I become an archaeologist?


See what Crow Canyon's Director of Research Mark Varien says about becoming an archaeologist.

Q. What classes should I take in high school to become an archaeologist?
A. Most high schools do not offer classes in anthropology or archaeology, but your current classes can help you prepare for anthropology courses in college. Anthropology is a multi-disciplinary field (it uses skills and resources from many other fields). Skills in critical reading, writing, math, history, social sciences, physics, chemistry, public speaking, public relations, photography, biology, botany, zoology, geography, and geology are all useful to archaeologists. Today's archaeologists use computers to store and analyze data, to make maps, and to write reports, so computer skills are very important as well.

One of the ways to become an archaeologist is to do what archaeologists do—fieldwork and laboratory analysis. Most archaeologists attended their first field school in college. However, museums, colleges, or state archaeological groups often offer the opportunity for younger students (middle school and high school) to participate in excavation and laboratory analysis programs that give them the opportunity to see what a career in archaeology would be like. Crow Canyon offers programs for middle and high school students. Check out these links for more information:
Middle School Archaeology Program
High School Archaeology Program
High School Field School.

To become an archaeologist you need to do well in all of your high school classes, as well as on the SAT or ACT test. With good grades, you will have an easier time getting into the college or university of your choice. Once in college, you will be able to focus on anthropology and archaeology. You may even decide to obtain an advanced degree (an M.A. or Ph.D.).    • Top of page

Q. What courses should I take in college to become an archaeologist?
A. If you decide to pursue a major in anthropology in college there are a number of classes that you will be required to take. These classes usually include an introductory course to the subfields of anthropology: cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics. There will also be a choice of electives offered, and you will want to take a number of archaeology classes, including one or more focusing on fieldwork and laboratory analysis, where you will excavate at a site, learn about artifacts, and practice the basic skills required of an archaeologist. Other courses, such as those in museum studies, will acquaint you with other important skills, in particular cataloging and preserving artifacts.

A meeting with your student advisor or guidance counselor will help you decide which courses to take and to be sure that you take all of the required courses. College advisors are very knowledgeable, but because they don't specialize in archaeology, it is always a good idea to talk to the student advisor in the anthropology department regarding specific information about classes and degree requirements.    • Top of page

Working with the total station. Photo by Bill Proud.Q. What are the best colleges to attend to become an archaeologist?
A. Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate (B.S. or B.A.) degrees in anthropology. You'll want to make sure that the college you attend offers anthropology as a major and it helps if they offer their own archaeology field school (you can, however, go to another university field school if the institution you decide to attend doesn't offer its own field school).

The American Anthropological Association publishes a book each year titled The AAA Guide. This publication contains information about anthropology and archaeology degree programs. Your local college or library may have a copy you can use to investigate schools that interest you.

Colleges that offer postgraduate (M.A. or Ph.D.) degrees in archaeology usually specialize in a certain geographic area or topic, and their professors are leaders in their field. When choosing a college to attend as an undergraduate, try to find out all that you can about the faculty members and their areas of special study. Professors often teach introductory classes, as well as classes in their area of expertise. You can learn about a subject that interests you and to get to know a professor who specializes in that field.    • Top of page

Q. Where can I get more information about becoming an archaeologist?
A. Many colleges and universities have information about their anthropology programs on the Internet. These Web sites often include information about the professors and their background and interests, descriptions of courses, and information about required classes. You might also find out that the college has an anthropology club.

The Society for American Archaeology has a number of very good resources relating to archaeology. These include an online booklet called Archaeology and You, which covers a variety of topics relating to archaeology. Two other important resources on the SAA Web site are Academic Programs in Archaeology and an FAQ about Careers in Archaeology.    • Top of page

Q. I'm in the 8th grade, and I need all the information I can get about the education requirements for an archaeologist, please!
A. You will want as many classes in the natural, physical, and social sciences that you can take in high school (biology, geology, sociology, etc.) In addition, if you are planning to major in archaeology or anthropology in college, it will help if you can participate in archaeology camps, museum studies programs, or other educational offerings of that nature during your summers. Experiences in the field become more important the older you get.

Unfortunately, few high schools offer these experiences, so if you want them before you enroll in college you will have to go out and look for them yourself. Our High School Field School and High School Archaeology Program are good examples of the types of program I am talking about. Good luck!    • Top of page

Q. What advice would you give to someone in seventh grade who wants to be an archaeologist?
A. My advice to you as someone who wants to work in this field is to get as much experience in the natural, physical, and social sciences as you can when you choose your electives in high school. You can also attend a field school in archaeology (Crow Canyon offers a one-week Middle School Archaeology Program each summer). Best of luck.    • Top of page

Q. What type of courses do you have to take to become an archaeologist?
A. Most archaeologists working at Crow Canyon have either their Master's degree or their Ph.D. That means that they have completed an additional two to six years of schooling after finishing college. Archaeologists use all types of skills. Before they even begin to study excavation methods or artifact analysis, they need solid skills in math, history, writing, and the scientific method. Archaeology is a science, but it is also a branch of anthropology (the study of human cultures), so it has a lot in common with social studies courses as well. And, of course, computer skills are very important. Archaeologists gather so much scientific data that a computer is the only means of keeping track of it all.

This question was answered by Scott Campbell, Archaeology Educator.    • Top of page

Q. How old do you have to be to become an archaeologist?
A. Most archaeologists have a college degree before they actually start getting paid to work. That means they are usually in their early twenties. This doesn't mean you have to be twenty to start learning about archaeology, though. Here at Crow Canyon, students begin studying archaeology in the fourth grade. Middle school students go out to the site and help us excavate. Each summer, we hold a three-week “field school” for high school students who are considering archaeology as a career. There are many ways to get started in archaeology, so even if you haven't graduated from college, you can start to work on your knowledge and skills.

This question was answered by Sara Kelly, Archaeological Educator.    • Top of page

Q. How can I become an archaeologist?
A. Most people get started in archaeology by getting an anthropology degree from a university, but there are a lot of ways you can learn about archaeology before going to college. Check your area to see if they have a local archaeological society (lots of places have them) and attend one of their meetings. Many times, members will visit archaeological sites or do special projects in their community. You might also be able to volunteer at a local park or museum and gain some knowledge and experience that way. Each state has a State Historic Preservation Office -- contact your state office about archaeology programs they may offer. You can also come to Crow Canyon (we would love that!) to learn about archaeology. Crow Canyon offers youth programs for middle school and high school students and several school group programs. Our High School Field School and High School Archaeology Program allow students to work with professional archaeologists in the field and the laboratory.

This question was answered by Sara Kelly, Archaeology Educator.    • Top of page

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