The College Payoff- Archaeology Edition (3)

Posted on August 18, 2011


The Georgetown university report on degree payoffs, used so far in this review, (seen here listed the median life time earnings (40 hrs a week, 52 weeks a year, 40 years) by degrees is as follows:

25th percentile- $1,177,100
Median- $1,727,000
75th Percentile- $2,426,300
25th percentile-$1,490,600
75th Percentile-3,388,700
25th percentile- $1,864,400
75th Percentile- $3,835,600
25th percentile- $2,150,400
75th Percentile- $4,743,400

I wanted to see how archaeologists fit into this. BA, as established before, will probably only be a field tech, senior fieldtech/crew chief, or a project supervisor/director. Though a MA can make it all the way to Owner or Principle Investigator (PI). So using the 2009 ACRA salary data I plugged in the different results to see how archaeologists compare against other fields by degree obtain. I have also made some estimates assuming 5 years field tech., 10 years project supervisor/director, 15 years as a PI, and 10 years as a manager of division/department as a natural progression of a archaeologists career in the non-academic sector with an MA.

Field Tech(only)- $ 1,158,000
Associates: 25th percentile- $1,177,100
Senior Field Tech (only)-$1,367,000
BA:25th percentile-$1,490,600
Associates:Median- $1,727,000
MA:25th percentile- $1,864,400
Field/project director (only)$1,891,000
Hypothetical Career in CRM with MA $2,048,000
PhD:25th percentile- $2,150,400
Associates:75th Percentile- $2,426,300
Principal Investigator (only)- $2,544,000
BA:75th Percentile-3,388,700
Owner of a Archaeology Compony (only)-  $3,613,000
MA:75th Percentile- $3,835,600
PhD:75th Percentile- $4,743,400

Overall a career in archaeology with higher degrees does not pay to well. A hypothetical career in archaeology with a MA actually pays less then the Median earnings of someone with a BA in other careers.


It is above the 25th percential of other careers with a MA and owners of CRM componies could potentially be in the top tier of earners above that of the median of PhD’s

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