There are relatively few openings in the field of teaching archaeology. However, federal grants and contracts provide more opportunities in archaeological fieldwork and research. A lot of this work is being conducted in the western and southwestern states, such as Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Particularly in northwestern New Mexico, there is a strong industry developing resources such as gas and oil. Because much of the land there is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the developers must hire professional archaeologists to clear the sites before gas lines or oil wells can be put in. Also, as construction projects increase, archaeologists will be needed to perform preliminary excavations in order to preserve historic sites.
In addition, the building of a reservoir on the Dolores River in Colorado uncovered hundreds of archaeological sites, necessitating a great deal of archaeological work. The project, which is the largest on the continent, has since brought many archaeologists to that area.
If you are a scholar who doesn’t want a full-time professional career as an archaeologist but would like to experience archaeological work, you can find many opportunities to try working at a dig. If you are willing to invest your time and, in some cases, your money, you can find professionally supervised archaeological investigations that welcome volunteers. These are listed in Archaeology magazine or in the books mentioned at the end of this chapter.
In 2004, archaeologists had median annual earnings of $43,890.