Tips on Starting a Career in Cultural Resources

By Alison Haller, M.S., Director of Marketing and Communications at Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc.

According to the Department of Labor, by 2021 there will be a 19% increase in the employment of archaeologists . This means cultural resources management (CRM) would be a good career choice for those seeking a career as a professional archaeologist. As a CRM professional, you will investigate and preserve cultural sites that range from Native American burial sites to significant and historical buildings and districts. CRM professionals are responsible for identifying, evaluating, and often protecting sites and their associated artifacts and/or settings for future generations, while complying with federal preservation laws. Because the work is expansive both geographically and topically, numerous occupations including archaeologists, museum curators, archivists, and historians fall under the CRM umbrella.

Size of the Industry:

  • $834,000,000 in 2016
  • Annual growth 2.9% (2007–2016)
  • Mean annual growth 1.2% (1971–2016)
  • Forecast mean annual growth 2.5% (2017–2021)
  • Great Lakes Region market $93,016,241 (11.1% of market)
  • Approximately 10,000 employed professionals
  • In 2015, there was a 19% decrease in students entering anthropology and archaeology programs

(Heritage Business International L3C

Tips for Starting a Career in CRM:

  • Be open to travel and/or relocating for work early in your career.
  • Become an expert and/or specialist in some area or type of resource, while maintaining generalist knowledge or adding a secondary skillset to complement your specialty.
  • Strive to be efficient in all of your work and thorough yet succinct in your note-taking and writing.
  • Although it is not necessary to have a Ph.D. to achieve senior level CRM positions, without a graduate degree (M.A. or Ph.D.), upward mobility is restricted and may limit a person to field supervisory roles or lower, despite the years of experience and excellence in performance and/or knowledge.
  • If the cost of graduate school is prohibitive, some archaeologists opt to go to the United Kingdom or Ireland to get an M.A. This is often attainable in one to two years at a much lower tuition cost than in the United States. Consider the graduate program and cost carefully with some comparative shopping; long-term student debt is best avoided or limited through careful decision making when applying to graduate schools.

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