They are Making How Much!?! That Can’t Be Right!!!!!

Posted on April 10, 2011

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As of recent, I have been looking at the pay trends of archaeologists in the US and UK. There were two ways I could have approached this, a census (large sample no census gets 100%) or a sampling (small sample). With a census I could have sent out a massive mailing asking for information from archaeologists. The problem with this is that a census takes a huge amount of time/money that I do not have. Also, you can not run a census every year (to much time/money and diminishing returns of responses) so you do not have continuous data. The years left out become black-holes and we are effectively blind to what is going on during that time.

Needless to say, I went with a sampling method (call it the archaeologists in me) and looked at job postings (a sample of pay conditions). Of course with a sample you always have the chance of sample bias ruining your results. I figured with a large enough sample of advertised job postings I could capture current trends in pay. Also, since there is a fairly high turn-over in archaeology jobs, especially some postilions (excavator/field tech are 95-100% temp jobs), these short term trends would line up quite nicely with long term trends.

With that in mind, I have been working my way through the data and posting some of it and my results on the web. That was till yesterday when I receive a …. interesting …. email saying telling me that my numbers were all wrong. That where this person worked X positions were paid under and Y positions were paid over the numbers I had. It also went on to say I was miss-leading people, bad research = bad archaeology, etc. etc. etc.

Well, I have decided to post a response showing how my sample numbers are just as good as census numbers. Also, so I can point to this post instead of having to re-write the same email each time someone doesn’t think my numbers are not a “correct representation of Archaeology.”

First, the data I post is what people are advertising job positions at and not what they should be advertising jobs at. There is nothing I can do about the rates people advertise a position for. Please, separate your personal opinions from my data before criticizing. Done, great moving on then to job postings vs. census data.

I took the data from the 3 UK census of archaeologists, Profiling the Profession (PP) (Aitchison 1999, Aitchison & Edwards 2003, Aitchison & Edwards 2008) and compared it against the results from surveys of the IfA jobs information bulletin. First, I had to convert some of the job divisions in the PP to those of the job advertisement data. The following divisions were combined: Archaeological Assistant, Excavator or Site Assistant, and Project Assistant into Excavator; Field Officer and Project Officer in Field Officer; Conservation Archaeologist and Conservator into Conservator. The rest were simple one to one comparisons.  The results were (by average pay)-

I included both the year data was taken and the previous year since most of the PP data was gathered earlier in the year (march). This means the data might represent the previous financial year for some people. Because of changing methodologies in the collection of IfA jobs information bulletin most of the data is captured in Calender years and only a few on a fiscal year schedule. The data is not exactly perfectly compatible but you can see that for the most part that the margin of difference between the different numbers is in the single percent. It is best for those jobs with the highest turnover/most temporary positions.

Figure 1: PP Rates vs Advertised Rates

The advertised job information is collected on a more regular basis making it inclined to wider swings in pay conditions. Yet, over all the general trends are inline with those of larger data collections (Figure 1). Basically, advertised data is a good proxy for real conditions in the field both in short term and long term perspectives. I hope this puts to rest anyone’s reservations about the accuracy of my data.

Aitchison, K. 1999. Profiling the Profession: A survey of archaeological jobs in the UK. Council for British Archaeology, English Heritage and the Institute of Field Archaeologists

Aitchison, K. & Edwards, R. 2003. Archaeology Labour Market Intelligence: Profiling the Profession 2002/03. Cultural Heritage National Training Organisation

Aitchison, K. & Edwards, R. 2008. Archaeology Labour Market Intelligence:
Profiling the Profession 2007/08. Institute of Field Archaeologists

Aitchison, K. R. & Anderson S. M. 1995. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Field Archaeologists No 22 Spring.

Tuner, R. 1996. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Field Archaeologists No 25 Spring

Tuner, R. 1997. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 29 Summer

Tuner, R. 1998. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 31 Spring

Tuner, R. 1999. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 34 Spring

Malcolm, G. 2001. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 37 Spring

Malcolm, G. 2001. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 40 Spring

Drummond-Murray, J. 2002. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 43 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2003. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 47 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2004. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 51 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2005. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 56 Spring

Drummond-Murray, J. 2006. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 59 Spring

Drummond-Murray, J. 2007. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 66 Winter

Drummond-Murray, J. 2008. Jobs in British Archaeology. The Archaeologists No 68 Summer

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