How Many Archaeologists are Employed by the US Federal Government?

Posted on January 7, 2014


How Many Archaeologists are Employed by the US Federal Government?

If you have ever asked yourself this question? If so I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management keeps track of such information, which anyone can access at FedScope. The bad news is that it is not necessarily clear cut as to who is an archaeologist.

Difference Between 0193 and 0102

Archaeologists are employed in two primary positions in the US Federal Government to undertake archaeological related work. I say primary because we archaeologists tend to be flexible in the sort of employment we carry out. An archaeologist might as easily be employed as an architectural historian, a curator, a researcher, an anthropologist, and so forth. I was at one point employed by the Federal Government as a Museum Aid working on the Chaco Canyon and related collections. All of us employed, at that time, in the collections had degrees in archaeology and considered ourselves archaeologists though we were employed as collections specialists. At best these numbers only represent those with the title of archaeologists and as I will demonstrate in a moment that is not always a clear.

One of the positions that archaeologists are employed in is the aptly named 0193 Archaeologist, with the numbers being the federal code given to the position of archaeologist. Those employed in these positions tend to be older, employed by the government for several years, and higher paid than the other position. Essentially, they are the permanent workforce of archaeologists for the Federal Government.

The second position archaeologists are employed in is the Social Science Aid and Technician 0102 position. While the 0193 positions tend to be permanent the 0102 posts tend to be seasonal. This position is essentially the hired summer workforce for the Federal Government. Though this is not 100% true as some 0102 positions are permanent and some 0193 are temporary. Thus permanent vs. seasonal is more of a generalization.

The problem with using 0102 positions to estimate the number of archaeologists is that they positions are not just filled by archaeologists. For example, the Department of Veteran Affairs advertises for Peer Specialists under the 0102 category, a job that does not involve archaeology. However, I examined job postings for 0102 positions on the USAjobs website and found that the Departments of Agriculture and Interior for the most part advertise temporary Archaeology Technician positions in this category, occasional a non-archaeology positions is advertised under the 0102 category but this is rare. Thus if we only look at the 0102 positions from these Departments it is possible to get a rough idea of the number of seasonal archaeologists the Federal Government employs. I say rough as with the information available it is not possible to be exact but these numbers are probably a good indication of the actual numbers give or take a few positions.

So how many archaeologists are there? In total about 1550 in 2013, though about 330 of those are 0102 which are seasonal (but not all). These numbers are not cumulative but a rough estimation of the number employed at any one time. Also the whole issue of some 0102 positions being non-archaeological (The Federal Gov actually employs around 1000 of them but these numbers are the only ones that might be archaeologists).

Here are the numbers for 0193s over the years:

0193 Archaeologists

Here are the numbers for 0102s:

0102 Archaeologists

and here are there combined totals:

Federal ArchaeologistsThe 0102 positions tend to have the wildest swings in employment from a low of under 300 in 2006 to a high of 530 only three years later in 2009. That is a change of 80% in three years. Not that surprising considering that it is seasonal work.

Employment for archaeologists in the Federal Government appears to benefit from economical recessions. Following the 2001 and 2007-09 recessions the number of archaeologists employed jumped significantly before eventually falling.  Given that the data covers such a brief period of time it will take many more years and more recessions before this can be confirmed, currently this is just a speculative observation I have.

I have been digging into the FedScope data and will be posting more information as I make my way through it. Here is the raw data for this post-

Year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
0102 Social Science Aid and Technician 374 382 343 407 442 424 403 365
0193 Archaeologists 1048 1024 1073 1158 1180 1198 1201 1187
Total 1422 1406 1416 1565 1622 1622 1604 1552
Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
0102 Social Science Aid and Technician 294 348 429 530 518 440 444 327
0193 Archaeologists 1126 1138 1134 1165 1237 1219 1246 1223
Total 1420 1486 1563 1695 1755 1659 1690 1550
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