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Also, jobs are not necessarily open to everyone: the minimum qualifications also differ considerably between adverts for posts in different countries.

In UK archaeology, in the vast majority of adverts – roughly 70% – there is no mention of any minimum requirements that applicants must meet to be considered for the post in terms of the academic degrees they hold. Only c. 20% of adverts mention a degree as a minimum requirement for applicants to be considered, as few as c. 6% an MA, and only 4% a PhD (fig. 6). Of course, successful candidates still normally hold at least a BA degree: 95% of the archaeologists working in the UK are graduates, as the 2007-2008 UK Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe study has shown, with 28% of archaeologists being educated to MA, and 12% to PhD level (Aitchison and Edwards 2008, 13).

We interpret this discrepancy, particularly towards the lower end of the qualification scale, as employers in the UK tending to advertise jobs with minimum academic qualifications requirements one level below the qualifications they would ideally like to appoint at – but presumably still at a level where they can expect the successful candidate to be sufficiently qualified to cope with the job, or to at least be trained internally quickly enough to be able to fulfil his/her role satisfactorily soon after having been appointed. Competition between archaeological job seekers, at the same time, ensures that for almost every advertised post, there are more than sufficient numbers of candidates at the qualification level the respective employer was hoping for. The result is a relatively wide range of opportunities to apply for jobs at the entry level into the profession (though unless the candidate stands out from the competition in some way or other, chances of being successful are small), with jobs requiring higher academic qualifications being the exception, rather than the rule.

The archaeology jobs supply in the UK thus reasonably well reflects the distribution of qualifications in the profession: comparably many ‘junior’ posts requiring relatively few qualifications, and much fewer ‘middle management’ and ‘senior’ posts that require higher qualifications and/or considerable experience. At the same time, this ‘shape’ of the supply side of posts also allows for ‘natural’ career progressions: one can start in a junior job with relatively low qualifications and rise through the ranks by either gaining practical experience or by acquiring higher qualifications later in one’s career. This is a reasonably ‘healthy’ shape of the profession: there are considerably more ‘Indians’ than there are ‘chiefs’.


Fig. 6: Minimum academic qualifications required to be considered for an advertised post.