Although you may not see them in the newspaper, there are lots of jobs around Australia in archaeology.
Most are in the area of cultural heritage management or contract (also called consultancy) archaeology. This involves the assessment of the impacts of development on archaeological sites and can require skills in site survey and excavation, as well as report writing and negotiation. Cultural heritage management positions are readily available in all major cities around Australia and particularly in states with an active mining industry, such as Western Australia.
Students seeking a career as an academic need a PhD post-graduate degree. Admission to post-graduate MA or PhD programs normally requires a First Class or IIA Honours degree.
For more specific information about where Australian archaeologists work, how much they earn and what fields they specialise in, see Australian Archaeology in Profile: A Survey of Working Archaeologists 2005: http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view.php?pid=UQ:8560, or visit 'Meet the Archaeologists' at http://archaeologyweek.com/mta/index.php.
View the statistics on The Average Australian Archaeologist (PDF 201KB)
The Alumni Survey
Since 2007 the Department has sent out a questionnaire to all of its former Honours, graduate and post-graduate research students, asking them a series of questions about their experiences studying archaeology at Flinders University and how their studies had helped them in their post-student lives. Below are some of the responses we received. As you can see, the archaeology program has produced many successful graduates, most of whom gained immediate employment in the field of consulting archaeology or in a heritage-related industry.
- What degree did you do and in what year did you complete?
- What is your current employment?
- What are your roles and/or main activities in your job?
- If you are not currently working as an archaeologist, how did what you learnt at Flinders help you in the workplace (in other words, what skills were transferable)?
- What was the best/most interesting topic you undertook in your archaeology degree at Flinders, and why?
- What was the most useful topic you studied and why, particularly for your current position?
- What reasons would you give when telling a prospective student to do their degree at Flinders University ?
Deborah graduated with a Bachelor of Archaeology (Hons) in 2004 and is currently employed as a heritage consultant with Urbis (www.urbis.com.au) in Sydney, NSW. Her job involves: providing heritage advice to a variety of clients, including government, commercial and private individuals; undertaking archival recordings, and producing demolition reports, conservation management plans, heritage impact statements and other such reports. She credits her archaeology degree at Flinders with teaching her many transferrable skills, all of which have helped her working in the heritage industry, including research, photography, surveying and report writing. Deborah enjoyed 'Field Methods' most, as it involved learning how to research a site, plan field-work, and provide recommendations based on the field work. On the most useful topics, she says: "All topics were useful. I enjoyed working with others in a team, undertaking primary research, combining it with secondary research, and presenting in front of an audience on a variety of topics." Her recommendations to potential students are: "other than the fact of a great campus, facilities and staff, the range of subjects is very broad and the compulsory topics give you grounding in basic skills that are transferable to a variety of occupations."
Alice graduated 2006 with a Bachelor of Archaeology (Hons) and is currently employed as Assistant Curator in the Anthropology Department of the Western Australian Museum (www.museum.wa.gov.au) in Perth, Australia. Her main tasks are: curation of the anthropology collection; undertaking field work; organising exhibitions; and assisting in the repatriation of objects to Indigenous communities. Her favourite topic was the upper level Field Methods (ARCH 2201 - formerly ARCH 3302) class, "due to its practical nature and demonstration of how important well developed field skills are." Alice credits the practical topics and her Honours research with supplying her with the skills she requires in her day to day work activities, and points to the "invaluable" practical field skills students are taught as the main reason to study Archaeology at Flinders.
Peta completed a Bachelor of Liberal Studies (Classical Archaeology Honours) in 2003 and a Master of Maritime Archaeology in 2006. She is currently Maritime Heritage Coordinator at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) (www.tmag.tas.gov.au/index.html) and the Maritime Museum of Tasmania (MMT) (www.maritimetas.org) in Hobart, Tasmania. Her numerous tasks in this role include: managing, researching and exhibiting the maritime collections of TMAG and MMT; redeveloping museum exhibitions at TMAG and MMT; working with the volunteers of the MMT to ensure the professional operation of this volunteer-run museum; assisting the public with maritime history research including investigating maritime objects in private collections; coordinating the Maritime Heritage Organisations of Tasmania - a group of maritime heritage organisations working together to promote and preserve maritime heritage throughout Tasmania; promoting maritime heritage throughout Tasmania through public talks and the media; and "anything else that pops up!" Her favourite topics were field schools: "I enjoyed the maritime archaeology field schools so much that I did four of them .., two as a student and two as a supervisor. The intense two weeks of living and working with like-minded people simulated real life archaeological fieldwork. Through these [field schools] you get a glimpse into the working world, which is useful to see if you are really on the right career path or not. Although the field schools are only two weeks long I always learnt more than I did in any whole semester subject. I found the unofficial subject of an internship at the South Australian Maritime Museum invaluable. I was able to exercise all of my research and analytical skills [and] I was also able to be creative while assisting with preparing an exhibition on shipwrecks." At Flinders, Peta developed research skills, learned to multi-task - an important part of her job at TMAG and MMT - and developed an appreciation of the value of liaising with colleagues in order to learn more about the discipline. Her most useful topic was her MMA thesis: 'How are Shipwrecks Represented in Australian Museums?' "My research is very relevant to my current job. My thesis investigated what the ideal museological methods were for representing shipwrecks in museums. I am now in the process of designing 'ideal' shipwreck exhibitions at a museum! What more could I want?!" For the prospective student, she says: "[t]he Master of Maritime Archaeology is a unique university degree in Australia. It supplies you with theoretical and practical skills required for the archaeology workforce. If students make the most of all opportunities, Flinders University can link them with very useful contacts for prospective research and work opportunities. If you complete an archaeology degree at Flinders, you will have instant professional connections in the archaeology world. Flinders graduates are everywhere!"
Jenni graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Archaeology and is currently employed as an Archaeologist with Kayandel Archaeological Services, in Campbelltown, NSW, along with working towards a Master of Cultural Heritage Management at Flinders. Her job involves undertaking field work, report writing and community liaison. Her favourite topics were the 'Directed Studies' she has undertaken as part of her Masters program, as they provided her with insights into the activities undertaken in the course of heritage consultancy work, and the most useful topic was Field Methods (ARCH 2201). Jenni recommends students study archaeology at Flinders because it is "very practical rather than [purely] theory based - which is very useful for employment."
Brandi graduated from the Master of Maritime Archaeology in 2006 and is currently working as a term underwater archaeologist with Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology Service, Ottawa. Some of the main activities of this position include, underwater site monitoring, site recording, keeping field notes, working with GIS, cataloguing photos and underwater video. The most interesting course she took was the 'Underwater Archaeology Field School' as it gave her the opportunity to apply knowledge acquired in the classroom to actual underwater field work and provides vital practical experience. The two most useful courses were the 'Underwater Archaeology Field School' and 'Issues in Maritime Archaeology': "These two classes provided the basic knowledge and skills I use working as an underwater archaeologist." In recommending the course, she says: "The Maritime Archaeology program at Flinders is well known and respected in the field. The classes provided a well guided introduction to underwater archaeology, and the thesis allowed me to study a more specific field of interest while being introduced to the requirements of writing large scale research paper. I enjoyed my time at Flinders and would recommend it to anyone considering underwater archaeology."
Dave graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in archaeology and is now a Senior Archaeologist with Australian Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd (www.achm.com.au), an archaeological and anthropological consultancy firm based in Adelaide, South Australia. His primary tasks in this position are: the conduct of archaeological surveys, excavations and analysis; report writing; and business management. As for his favourite topic, which he also found the most useful for his current position, in his own words: "'Indigenous Archaeology' was the most interesting topic for me. It provided relevant background for me to explore my interest in the area. Fieldwork, in collaboration with Traditional Owners, was central in guiding me towards my present day occupation". As for the reasons he would give a prospective Flinders student: "[the] University in general is an excellent learning environment and the staff treat students more like colleagues than undergraduates."
Adam graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Archaeology (Hons) and is currently employed as an Archaeologist with Archaeological and Heritage Management Solutions Pty Ltd in Annandale, NSW. His diverse tasks include project management, historical research, archaeological excavation and planning, site survey, historical and Aboriginal heritage impact assessment, and preparing excavation permit applications. On his favourite topic, he had this to say: "Archaeological theory was very interesting and provided some much needed background information regarding the development of archaeology as a discipline. A particularly important issue raised within this topic is the effect that use of differing theoretical paradigms has on the outcomes of research (i.e. interpretation)." He says 'Field Methods' was the most useful "as the skills I learned could be applied to work situations relevant to entry level or sub-consulting positions typically available to graduates in Sydney. In addition to the Field Methods topic, field schools and opportunities provided by the University to volunteer on excavations, in Australia and overseas, aided me in gaining employment." To potential students he says: "Flinders University has developed a reputation for providing more field work opportunities than other Australian based universities. As a result graduates from Flinders are generally recognised as having better developed field work based skills than graduates from other universities."
Cass graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in archaeology and is currently employed as a Maritime Archaeologist with Heritage Victoria (www.heritage.vic.gov.au), in Melbourne. Her primary role is the management of maritime heritage places (shipwrecks and archaeological sites), which involves mitigation, compliance, research, interpretation, education, administration, fieldwork, and liaison with developers, consultants, volunteers, students, researchers, divers and the general public. Her favourite topic was 'Historical Archaeology' as it was her main interest, although she found a non-archaeology specific topic - 'Professional English' - the most useful as "it was a multi-disciplinary topic that helped to hone my writing skills. Being able to write clearly and concisely and get your point across is particularly useful for many aspects of my work". Cass is enthusiastic about recommending archaeology at Flinders to prospective students: "It's cheap to live in Adelaide! If they want to do maritime archaeology specifically there isn't anywhere else in Australia to study it. When I was at Flinders there were plenty of opportunities to do fieldwork and this seems to be one of the main reasons why my peers and I were very employable compared with graduates of universities in the eastern states. Being capable in the field is a very important aspect of being an archaeologist, and nowadays students must try harder to get independent field experience if they want to get work and, importantly, to be good archaeologists."
Faye graduated with a Bachelor of Archaeology (Hons) in 2006 and is currently working as a Heritage Officer with South East Water - Utility Services, in Melbourne, Victoria (www.southeastwater.com.au). Her main activities in this work include: explaining Aboriginal heritage legislation to the design teams; completing due diligence assessments and simple Cultural Heritage Management Plans; working with archaeological consultants; and conducting heritage audits. She found that generic report writing skills have been the most useful thing she learnt at university, while she found the topic 'Archaeology of Art' the most interesting and the 'Rock Art Field School' the most relevant for the field skills that were taught. Faye recommends Flinders as a great environment for learning.
Nathan graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in archaeology and then in 2002 was awarded a PhD, both at Flinders. He is now Assistant Professor in the Program in Maritime Studies at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, USA (www.ecu.edu/maritime), in which he is involved in teaching, research, advising, professional service. He credits the topics on maritime archaeology with helping him work out what he wanted to do with his life and enjoyed the numerous fieldschools and the 'Field Methods' classes as "the most fun and educational". He credits the Department of Archaeology with "quality of supervision, close-knit community [and] availability of good field projects."
Jennifer graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in archaeology. She went on to complete an MA in Maritime Archaeology in 2001 at the University of Southampton, UK, and than a PhD at the University of Western Australia in Perth. After graduating from Southampton, Jennifer worked at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, England, before joining the Western Australian Museum in 2003 where she is currently in charge of the Maritime Archaeology Department's shipwreck collections (www.museum.wa.gov.au/maritime). Jennifer is heavily involved in shipwreck exhibitions but her other roles include working on research and collaborative projects, research and publications, supervising volunteers and interns, supervising/advising postgraduate students, as well as enforcement issues, among other responsibilities. She credits her lecturers' strong encouragement to acquire fieldwork experience from internal or external projects and publishing one's research as being vital in acquiring work in the field. Jennifer is currently also the Editor of the Bulletin of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology.
Her favourite topic at Flinders was 'Museum Studies' as it was what she always wanted to do, "and it raised some very interesting and sensitive issues to do with acquiring of objects for museum collections and issues surrounding the repatriation of cultural objects." 'Maritime Archaeology', 'Field Methods' and 'Museum Studies' were her picks as most useful because of the practical experience and investigation of the methods involved in carrying out fieldwork. "Maritime Archaeology specifically provided a background knowledge in terms of identifying and working with shipwreck and other maritime objects, carrying out research on these and knowing the theories involved. Museum Studies provided me with the necessary knowledge for working in a Museum environment in terms of interpreting display, keeping up-to-date with relevant issues and policies concerning the collections, and being constantly aware that the Museum's obligation as a public institution, and that members of the public involve a wide range of audiences that we need to cater to not only via exhibitions and accurate interpretations but also in accessing the collections and research materials available." For the aspiring student, she says: "[In] my experience, it's one of the best departments to be in. It has strong staff who have very influential national and international links with professionals and institutions. The Department is also well established academically and, for maritime, is the only university to offer such a program in Australia. Flinders is also very conducive for study, is a great campus with good facilities and very little beats living in Adelaide!"
Jody graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in archaeology and is currently employed as a Historic Heritage Consultant/Archaeologist with the Historic Heritage Section, Parks & Wildlife Service (www.parks.tas.gov.au), in Hobart, Tasmania. Her primary role is in historic heritage consultation, involving terrestrial archaeology and historic buildings conservation, conservation management and acting as a conservation 'best practice' advisor. Although currently working in heritage, Jody believes that topics requiring historical research and report writing provided her with the skills most broadly applicable in any workplace. Her favourite topics were 'Museum Studies' and 'Modern Material Culture', along with the practical based topics - of course - and she credits the 'Field Methods' topic as the most valuable to her current employment, "where recording sites is vital". For prospective students, she advises: "the Archaeology Department at Flinders is well respected around the country and the staff are so resourceful and approachable that you can't help but learn!"