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Career as Archaeologist

Career as a Archaeologist

About Archaeologist

In simple terms, Archaeology means the study of ancient human past through materials remain. It is also a sub disciple to Anthropology, which is a study of varied human cultures. The experts in Archaeology are called as Archaeologists. Archaeology is an inter-disciplinary activity deal with the investigation of material development made by the past human societies. The objective of Archaeology is to study earlier human cultures through identification, excavation and survey of historical sites. As a multidisciplinary activity, archaeology involves various subjects such as art history, anthropology, geology, ethnology, linguistics, history, physics and statistics.

 They make use of their knowledge from the humanities, social, physical, and biological sciences. They also examine the ways of prehistoric societies in various parts of the world. They also study the customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures from the research purpose. Many archaeologists use sophisticated tools and technologies in their work. Although tasks vary by speciality, materials often include excavating tools, laboratory equipment, statistical and database software.

Eligibility to become Archaeologist

  • At least 45 - 50% of marks in Class 12 in any stream from a recognised board are enough to take up a UG course in History/ Archaeology/ Ancient History.

  • For taking up Master’s course in Archaeology, you need to score at least 50% marks in UG degree. Some universities consider students from any stream for M.A. Archaeology course.

  • Some universities conduct entrance exam for the admission to M.A. Archaeology course. Students need to qualify the entrance test to secure admission.

Types of Job Roles Archaeologist

Museum/ Gallery Exhibition Officer: He/ She is responsible for planning or organising permanent or travelling exhibitions. They also manage or supervise activities in a museum.

Urban Archaeologist: These archaeologists play a significant role in studying the urban centres or cities.

Pre-Historic Archaeologist: An archaeologist who examines human traditions associated with the pre-historic or historic era is called as Pre-Historic Archaeologists.

Palaeontologist: An archaeologist who studies about life forms that existed on the Earth before the advent of humans is called as Palaeontologist.

Marine Archaeologist: Marine Archaeologist is also called an underwater archaeologist who studies and examines the remains of ships along with the study of cultures that were developed along the coastline.

Environmental Archaeologist: A person who studies the impact of the environment on the past societies and societies’ impact on the environment is called as Environmental Archaeologist.

Documentation Specialist: An archaeologist who studies the documents of past cultures and societies and compiles them in an order is called as a documentation specialist.

Lecturer: A person who is an expert in the field of Archaeology and teachers students in universities or college is called as Archaeology lecturer.

Experimental Archaeologist: An archaeologists who replicate obsolete objects and processes to have an understanding of their work is called as Experimental Archaeologist.

Employment Sector/Industry for Archaeologist

After attaining necessary qualifications and skills, Archaeologists can get into various positions in government and the private sector. However, the employment opportunities for Archaeologists are more in the government sector rather than private. The following are some of the organisations in which archaeologists can take up jobs: -

  • National Heritage Agencies

  • Indian Council of Historical Research

  • Archaeological Survey of India

  • National Museums

  • Government and Private Museums

  • Cultural Galleries

  • Universities and Colleges

Top Recruiting Agencies for Archaeologists

Most of the employment opportunities for Archaeologists are available in the government sector. The following are top government organisations in India that recruit archaeologists: -

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the primary recruiter of archaeologists at both central and state level. The graduates can secure jobs in ASI by clearing Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination or State Public Service Commission (SPSC) exam.

  • The students who possess a postgraduate degree in Archaeology can apply for the post of lecturers/professors in various universities across the country. However, qualifying marks in National Eligibility Test (NET) is mandatory to become a professor.

Planning to choose Archaeologist as your career?

Pay Scale/Salary of Archaeologist

Job Profile

Starting Salary per annum (in INR)

Mid Level Salary per annum (in INR)

Senior Level Salary per annum (In INR)

Archaeologists (Government)

Rs. 3,50,000

Rs. 6,00,000

Rs. 10,00,000


Rs. 2,50,000

Rs. 4,00,000

Rs. 6,00,000

Documentation Specialist

Rs. 2,60,000

Rs. 3,60,00

Rs. 5,00,000


Rs. 3,50,000

Rs. 7,00,000

Rs. 10,00,000

Assistant Archaeologist

Rs. 2,00,000

Rs. 4,00,000

Rs. 6,00,000

Museum/ Gallery Officer or Curator

Rs. 1,50,000

Rs. 3,00,000

Rs. 5,00,000

 Note: The above figures are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.

Books & Study Material to Become Archaeologist

For most of the university entrance exams, students need to focus on basic History and General Awareness. Here are some of the books that will help Archaeology students to enhance their knowledge in the field.

  • Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice by Colin Renfrew

  • Gods, Graves and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology by CW Ceram

  • Archaeological Theory by Matthew Johnson

  • 1177 BC: The Year Civilisation Collapsed by Eric H. Cline

  • Archaeology: A Brief Introduction by Brian M Fagan

Pros of becoming a Archaeologist

  • Archaeology is an ideal profession who want to make a career in unravelling mysteries of the ancient past.

  • A famous discovery in the field of Archaeology brings the status and reputation of an archaeologist to iconic proportions.

Cons of becoming a Archaeologist

  • Archaeologists face inclement weather, hazardous and tough working conditions in the field of work.

  • Long working hours in the field and constant travelling can be punishing on the mind and the body.

Career path for Archaeologist

The following are some of the steps that students need to follow to become an archaeologist. For becoming an archaeologist, students need to plan their career right from the Class 12. Even though students from any stream in Class 12 are eligible to pursue courses in Archaeology, there are a set up of courses that will add advantage.

Subjects Combination: There is a specific subject combination required in Class 12 to pursue a course in Archaeology. However, Arts stream in Class 12 will add more advantage to your career prospect. Since a few institutes offer B.A. course in Archaeology, you can also take up B.A. course in Ancient History/ History so that you can take up Master’s (M.A.) course in Archaeology. However, for some of the jobs like Marine Archaeologists, an engineering degree in Marine Engineering is relevant.  

Paths for Being Archaeologist

FAQs about Archaeologist

How can an Archaeologist get into the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)?

To get into the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), an archaeologist has to appear in the UPSC exam and qualify the exam with the minimum requisite cutoff score.

Do archaeologists get to travel a lot?

Only those archaeologists who do not reside in the vicinity of their research areas get to travel.

Who is called the Father of Indian Archaeology?

Sir Alexander Cunningham is regarded as the Father of Indian Archaeology.

What kind of challenges does an archaeologist face?

An archaeologist faces various technical difficulties at work along with some other petty difficulties like bad weather, bugs, mud etc.

Which are the best archaeology colleges in India?

Institutions like Banaras Hindu University, University of Mysore, Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management etc are considered as the top colleges to pursue archaeology from in India.

What kind of job roles are offered to archaeologists?

Archaeologists are offered various job roles like a lecturer, documentation specialist, palaeontologist, experimental archaeologist, cartographer etc.

Is it important for an archaeologist to know math?

Yes, an archaeologist does various work where they are required to calculate distances, diameters, weights etc for which knowledge of mathematics is important.

How many years of study is required to become a successful archaeologist?

To become a successful archaeologist, the candidates must have a master’s degree at least which means we are looking at a minimum of 5 years of study.

Is it hard to become an Archaeologist with just a Bachelor’s degree?

It is not hard to become an archaeologist with just a Bachelor’s degree but to have a secured career, the candidates must have a master’s degree as the jobs for an archaeologist with a bachelor’s degree are very scarce.

How much is an Archaeologist paid during the initial stages of his/her career?

In the initial stages, an archaeologist is paid in the bracket of INR 2.5 LPA to INR 3.5 LPA which may vary on the organisation for which the archaeologist renders his/her services.

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