Archaeology graduates have an excellent reputation with recruiters. Why is this the case? Firstly, archaeology is a broad-based degree encompassing the humanities and the sciences and it includes both theoretical and practical perspectives. As such a wide range of careers can be pursued, including education and business. The core skills that are attractive to employers feature throughout an archaeology degree. These include team work, problem solving, data analysis and interpretation, presentation and organisational skills.
Archaeology is primarily a graduate profession. In 2012-13, over 90% of archaeologists employed in the UK held a Bachelors degree or higher with nearly one in two with a Masters degree or higher award. The estimated number of professional archaeologists working in the UK in 2013 is just under 5000 with a balance slightly in favour of male (54%) over female (46%) professionals. The workforce is not as ethnically diverse as the population as a whole. Some organizations are exploring steps to build a workforce which more closely reflects the diverse demographic profile of the communities that operate in.
The majority of archaeologists work for commercial private sector organizations followed by those who work in universities, national government agencies, local government and museums and other community organisations. Despite experiencing a reduction in the size of the sectoral workforce in the previous five years as a result of the recession, in a recent survey, slightly more employers anticipated that their organisation would be larger one year in the future than it is currently (Aitchison and Rocks-Macqueen 2013).
Unistats is the official web site that allows you to search for and compare data and information on university and college courses from across the UK. The site draws together comparable information on those areas that students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The site draws on funding council data on Student destinations on finishing their course from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. The DLHE survey collects information on what leavers from higher education programmes are doing six months after qualifying from their course (employed, engaged in further study and so on).
There are resources to support employability in archaeology. The Higher Education Academy (HEA) has an excellent report here on Archaeology Graduates of the Millennium - A Survey of the Career Histories of Graduates by Victoria Jackson and Anthony Sinclair which can be downloaded from the site.
Aitchison, K. and Rocks-Macqueen, D. (2013) Archaeology Labour Market Intelligence: Profiling the Profession 2012-13. Landward Research Ltd.