How Much Archaeologists Make (USA, 2012, Crew Chief)

Posted on January 16, 2013


This is the second part (part 1 on field tech pay can be found here) of the yearly review of how much archaeologists make in the US (apologies to Canada, not enough data to include you). This is for the position of crew chief. Previous years findings can be seen here. Now, this is a tricky position to define as it tends to be the equivalent of a senior project manager or junior project manager (also called project officer, PI, etc. but is basically middle management). The actual title and use of Crew chiefs tend to be based in the western US. It is mainly used on survey crews when you have to break up a crew into small groups to cover more ground but don’t want to pay a middle manager to manage each small crew.

The data is based off of job postings on the websites and Methodology is discussed below e.g. possible flaws in the data, specifics on how the data was gathered, etc. Government based jobs will be dealt with in another post. So how much do senior techs make? In 2012, the average starting pay was $15.28 per hour. The average high pay was $17.00.  The total lowest pay was $12 (not acceptable in my opinion) and the highest was $21.

Methodology and data is key to understanding these numbers:

My data comes from the job postings on the websites yahoo group and, duplicate posts between the two and multiple postings of the same job were eliminated. However, it is hard to determine how many posting are just rolling calls to create lists of potential employees and job specific. Posting that were from the same company, posted less than two months apart, and listed the same requirements were eliminated as duplicates. However, if similar posts were advertised several months apart they were counted as different jobs on the assumption that after several months positions would have been filled and this is a new call for employees (even for the same project). Even if the job posting was for multiple jobs they are only counted as a single data point as most job postings do not list the number of openings. Because of the lack of standard names for this position requirements and duties were used to define this post, not names.
49 posts were examined and 10 had information on pay. The raw data can be accessed at tDAR here.

Basically, because this is not a standard position in commercial archaeology there is limited data. This does not mean that these numbers are off but that you should remeber these points:

  1. This is a snap shot of the whole field, individual jobs or employers could pay widely different ranges of pay
  2. There is a regional difference with those in the Eastern US earning less than those in the West, on average. Again, see point 1.
  3. High wages tend to be for specific projects with mandated federal wages, even for private companies, or in places like Alaska. They are the exception, not the rule.
  4. These positions are temporary Never Assume You Will be Able to Work All Year Long. $15 is great but not if you only work 2 months a year.