In Austria and Germany, the situation is very different to this: only a minority of posts (c. 10-20%) do not require applicants to have at least a BA degree (fig. 6). And the BA itself does not help much either in becoming eligible for archaeological employment: only slightly more than 5% of all posts advertised in Austria and only about 3.5% of posts advertised in Germany make a degree the minimum requirement. Only with an MA, chances of archaeological employment somewhat improve, with c. 30-40% of adverts requiring applicants to have a Master’s degree. In both Austria and Germany, about 45% make a PhD or the even higher PD (Habilitation/Higher Doctorate) a minimum requirement (which means that about 24% of all the jobs advertised in Austria and c. 15% of those advertised in Germany are Chairs, since the Habilitation is still normally considered the required academic qualification for being appointed a professor).
This distribution of minimum qualifications asked of candidates on the ‘supply’ side of the labour market, in contrast to the situation in the UK, reflects the actual distribution of academic qualifications in Austrian and German archaeology quite well. In Austria in 2007-2008, slightly less than one third of all paid employees in archaeology had no academic qualifications, about one third had completed a Master’s degree, and slightly more than a third had acquired a doctorate or even a Habilitation (Karl 2008, 71). This is only slightly out of line with the distribution of required academic qualifications in job adverts from Austria, with c. 25% requiring no qualifications or BA only, c. 30% an MA, and c. 45% a PhD or Habilitation.
In Germany, the picture is slightly more complicated, but similar to the one in Austria nonetheless. In 2007-2008, most ‘low-qualification’ jobs – a considerable number of all employees in archaeology at c. 40% on average across all sectors – were in ‘support’ jobs, while practically no ‘proper’ archaeologists’ jobs were filled with staff without at least an MA degree. Of the ‘real’ archaeologists’ jobs, that is the remaining c. 60% of all posts, on average c. 40% of the staff had an MA (with the exception of commercial firms, where almost three quarters of ‘academic staff’ had ‘only’ an MA), while the remaining c. 60% held a PhD or even a Habilitation (Krausse and Nübold 2008, 47-50). While this is slightly further out of line with the distribution of required qualifications in job adverts than in Austria, the general pattern of only very few archaeology jobs – 15% – being advertised without any academic qualifications or a BA degree as a minimum requirement for employment, c. 40% of all advertised posts requiring at least an MA, and c. 45% a PhD or Habilitation, is at least roughly similar to that of the actual distribution of qualifications among ‘archaeologists’.
We interpret this as employers in German speaking archaeology advertising posts with the minimum academic qualification requirements at the level at which they would actually like to appoint. This clearly has an advantage in that candidates that have little if any chance to be successful with their application are not wasting time on applying for posts they will in all likelihood never get. However, in practice, it has the serious disadvantage that particularly for new entrants into the discipline who have not at least completed an MA degree, there are hardly any posts to apply for. Prospective entrants into the discipline thus have few opportunities to hone their job application skills before they reach a relatively advanced level. And reach an advanced level they must if they are to have any (serious) chances of finding ‘proper’ employment in the profession. For employers, this has the advantage that they can be reasonably certain to get an employee who has the qualifications they were hoping for. At the same time, it has the disadvantage of narrowing the pool of candidates (though there still are always more than enough), and thus possibly not finding the candidate with the best skills for the job.
The archaeology jobs supply in Austria and Germany thus also reasonably well reflects the distribution of qualifications in the profession: those who succeeded in getting a job in archaeology are normally highly academically qualified, regardless of the seniority of their post or whether it actually requires such a high level of academic qualifications and / or considerable professional experience. However, this shape of the ‘supply’ of jobs does not support a ‘natural’ career progression: one cannot enter the profession with relatively few qualifications in a junior position and then rise through the ranks by gaining practical experience or gaining higher qualifications later in one’s career. Rather, one has to acquire pretty much all qualifications in advance, and then hope to be lucky to find a job at the level one has achieved. This situation is made even worse by the fact that frequently, employers reject applications by candidates with qualifications higher than the ones listed as the minimum requirement for appointment because they fear that such ‘overqualified’ candidates might soon after being appointed find a job at ‘their level of qualifications’ (which will usually be better paid and frequently also perceived as more interesting than lower-level jobs) and leave. Also, that shape of the profession is considerably less ‘healthy’: it is severely top-heavy, with too many ‘chiefs’, and with a very tight bottleneck at the entry level.