The College Payoff- Archaeology Edition (2)

Posted on August 17, 2011

1


The Georgetown university report on degree payoffs (seen here http://cew.georgetown.edu/collegepayoff/) listed the lowest life time earning (based on 40hrs a week for 40 years) by career for Associates and BA degrees, out of the 300 occupations it covered. They were:

Associates degree-

Teacher Assistants $9.40 per hr. ($782,000)
Cashiers $10.81 per hr. ($899,000)
Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides $13.23 per hr. ($1,101,000)
Receptionists and Information Clerks $13.47 per hr. ($1,117,000)
Janitors and Building Cleaners $14.17 per hr. ($1,179,000)

BA degree-

Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents $17.75 per hr. ($1,477,000)
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks $17.80 per hr. ($1,481,000)
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $18.27 per hr. ($1,520,000)
Counselors $18.28 per hr. ($1,521,000)
Social Workers $18.88 per hr. ($1,571,000)

Of course they did not list archaeologists so I had to do some digging. First, one has to determine what sort of archaeology job one could get with a BA, which means Field/Lab tech or crew chief/senior field tech. Yes, there are other archaeology jobs but very few people with BA’s get them. Looking at the 2005 SAA salary survey the percentage of positions held by BA’s are as follows (field tech, crew chief are absent and NO academic positions were field by BA’s):

Compliance Archaeologist- 5.7%
District/Regional/State archaeologists- 5.3%
Park/Forest/Field Office Archaeologist- 14.3%
Cultural Resources Program Manager- 5.9%
Cultural Resources Coordinator/Specialist- 12.5%
Curator- 1.6%
Field Director- 15.4%
Lab Director- 9.7%
Museum Director- 7.1%
Owner- 3.3%
Principal Investigator- 1.8%
Project Director- 12.3%
Project Manager- 7.1%

Field Director/project director is pretty much the same position and they have the highest percentage of BA’s, besides park archaeologists, at a little less then 15%. Looking at the ACRA 2009 salary survey (data from 2008 but Georgetown data is from 2009) the per hour for field tech, senior tech, crew chief, and field/project director can be compared against these other occupations with comparable degrees.

Associates-

Teacher Assistants $9.40 per hr. ($782,000)
Cashiers $10.81 per hr. ($899,000)
Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides $13.23 per hr. ($1,101,000)
Receptionists and Information Clerks $13.47 per hr. ($1,117,000)
Janitors and Building Cleaners $14.17 per hr. ($1,179,000)

Field Tech $13.92 per hr ($ 1,158,000)
Senior Field Tech $16.43 per hr ($1,367,000)

BA-
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents $17.75 per hr. ($1,477,000)
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks $17.80 per hr. ($1,481,000)
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $18.27 per hr. ($1,520,000)
Counselors $18.28 per hr. ($1,521,000)
Crew Chief $18.52 per hr ($1,541,000)
Social Workers $18.88 per hr. ($1,571,000)
Field/project director $22.73 per hr. ($1,891,000)

Basically, there are exceptions to all rules but your odds of being that %1.8 of PI’s with a BA is slim. For everyone else a BA in archaeology produces some of the lowest lifetime earnings on average as most can only become field techs or crew chiefs. Even sadder some of the lowest paying jobs with a associates still beat most archaeologists with a BA.

Of note- the numbers from the ARCA survey are means while the GT are median. This could make a difference but without the raw data it is impossible to know.

Archaeology Data sources:

2005 Association Research, Inc.
2005 Salary Survey conducted for the Society for American Archaeology in cooperation with Society for Historical Archaeology. http://www.saa.org/Portals/0/SAA/membership/survey/start.pdf

2009 Vernon Research Group
ACRA 2009 Trending Study prepared for the American Cultural Resources Association