information for students
CTA is a nonprofit voluntary organization whose purpose is to maintain and promote the goals of professional archeology in the State of Texas. CTA works for you by preserving our cultural resources, by enhancing public awareness of Texas archeology, and by promoting communication and cooperation within the archeological community. The benefits of membership in the CTA are not just limited to professional archeologists. Students may also benefit from membership in CTA through contact with professional archeologists and potential employers. Student members can be kept abreast of the latest developments in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) and have the opportunity to participate in shaping statewide CRM policies and procedures.
Employment leads – our membership includes over 100 professional archeologists from all over the state.
Research Grants – a fund has been established to help support the research of student members. Check out our grant information on the Grants and Awards page!
Networking – learn what’s happening in archeology across the state and who’s doing what.
Participation – observe and learn how all professional archeologists play a role in developing archeological standards for the entire state!
Career Opportunities in Archeology – Did You Know?
While some students may not be familiar with Cultural Resource Management (CRM) it should be stated that a recent census conducted by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) showed that nearly half of its members are employed in CRM or by a regulatory agency overseeing CRM. Other surveys have shown that the vast majority of archeologists in the United States are some how involved in CRM, but what exactly is CRM and why does CRM exist? Often referred to as contract archeology, Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is a growing and dynamic industry. The following provides some general explanations regarding the why’s, what’s, and how’s of CRM.
Some of the Major Laws Requiring Consideration or Protection of Archeological Sites:
- Sections 106 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended)
- The Antiquities Code of Texas (other states have similar laws)
- Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979
When Is Compliance Required?
- Under the National Historic Preservation Act, when the project is Federally approved, funded, and/or permitted or licensed.
- Under the Antiquities Code of Texas, when the project is on land and waterways that are owned or controlled by a state agency (e.g., General Land Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) or political subdivision (e.g., City of Houston, Travis County)
- Under the Archeological Resources Protection Act, when archeological sites are located on Federal lands (e.g., Sam Houston National Forest, Fort Hood Military Reservation)
Key Players (State / Federal)
State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO)/Texas Historical Commission (yes / yes)
State Agency (yes / *)
Federal Agency(* / yes)
Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (no / yes)
Project Sponsor (yes / yes)
CRM or Contract Archeologist (yes / yes)
Interested Public Citizen or Organization (no / yes)
Native American Tribes (no / yes)
*Only if agency is project sponsor
The General Process
- Identification and evaluation of cultural resources (i.e., archeological sites, historic buildings, historic properties, etc.) within the project area. For archeologists this step is often referred to as archeological survey. Recommended evaluations made by the archeologist are then confirmed or denied by the SHPO.
- Determination of significance of individual sites through limited test excavations. Often referred to as testing phase or Phase II. Evaluation of significance is confirmed or denied by the SHPO based on the data and recommendations presented by the archeologist.
- Mitigation of or development of treatment plan for significant sites subject to potential adverse impacts. Often referred to as data recovery, excavation, or Phase III.
Suggested Reading and Websites for More Information
King, Thomas F.
1998 Cultural Resources Laws and Practice: An Introductory Guide. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, California.
National Park Service
1983 The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation. F8 Federal Register 44716-68.
1998 Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Federal Agency Historic Preservation Programs Under Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act. 63 Federal Register 20495-20508.
For information on and from the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, including laws, regulations, publications, and training about Section 106, and a summary of Section 106 case law, see: http://www.achp.gov
For information on National Park Service programs in historic preservation, including the National Register, preservation standards and guidelines, and the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, and accessible copies of many NPS publications including National Register Bulletins and various standards and guidelines, see: http://www.cr.nps.gov
For access to state historic preservation laws, see: http://ncsl.org/programs/arts/statehist.htm
For information about the Texas Historical Commission and its role in CRM in Texas, see: http://www.thc.state.tx.us
What Kinds of Employment and Career Opportunities are there in CRM?
The CRM world is a young and dynamic industry and offers many different niches for archeologists. In contrast to academic positions the CRM world usually has many more employment opportunities, funding, research opportunities, and job locations. Often times it is better administered, has better infrastructure, and the high-end salary potential is much greater. At the same time CRM can also be very competitive and stressful. Often times companies have either too much work or too little.
- Private CRM firms— range from small local and regional archeology firms to larger nationwide environmental consulting and engineering firms. Most firms have a small permanent/core staff and highly variable short-term staff that is hired to fit the firm’s current project load. Permanent staff positions can be very secure, provide good pay and benefits, rewarding, but can be difficult to get. There is an impressive range of jobs within private consulting firms. These include field, lab, and administrative positions, specialized skills people, such as lithic and ceramic analysts, geomorphologists, cartographers, GIS and graphics people, and historical archeologists just to name a few.
- University based CRM firms— provide similar niches and positions as private CRM firms. Can be more research oriented and may have better access to specialists and libraries.
- Federal and State Government Archeologists— provides opportunities to protect archeological resources and help insure that quality research is conducted. Many different positions, including land managers, regulators, field positions (especially at the survey level), contracting officers, public outreach specialists, research positions, and tour guides. Permanent positions usually provide good benefits and salaries.
- Native American Cultural Resource Programs— relatively new field of archeological research and management opportunities administered by Native American groups on tribal lands (e.g., Zuni Archeological Program at Zuni, New Mexico).
A list of contract archeology firms in Texas and the surrounding states is available on the Council of Texas Archeologists’ web site. See our contractors list!
How to Prepare Yourself for a Career in CRM Archeology
Education and Experience
For the most part a B.A. or B.S. degree in Anthropology/Archeology and previous field experience is required to work as a field archeologist, while supervisory roles require a graduate degree, usually a M.A./M.S. There are however exceptions to these standards. Students who have had an archeological field school or some previous field experience through an archeological society’s endeavor, but have not yet finished their B.A. degree, can often find employment during the summer months. Degrees in Anthropology/Archeology are not always required if a person has related knowledge and can demonstrate previous archeological field experience. Individuals with degrees in geology, history, and geography are not uncommon at many CRM companies and in many government agencies. The key is field experience.
Join and Participate in Local and State Archeological Societies
Outside of a university sponsored archeological field school, experience can be gained by joining and participating in local and state archeological societies. Their small size and relatively inexpensive costs, particularly the local societies, virtually guarantees opportunities to participate in activities and good camaraderie. Societies may sponsor or conduct fieldwork ranging from weekend outings involving survey, archeological site and rock art recordation to more involved archeological excavations, such as the annual field school sponsored by the Texas Archeological Society. Societies sponsor meetings and lectures where archeological data is disseminated. In addition societies provide publication opportunities through society newsletters and journals.
Join Professional Organizations
Professional organizations, such as the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and Council of Texas Archeologists (CTA), can provide information on graduate school programs, scholarships and research grants, and employment, not just in your local area or state, but across the country and around the world. Through meetings, newsletters, and journals professional organizations serve as a source of news for the latest in archeological research and the state of archeology.
Resumes or Vitae
Employers, particularly CRM firms, are looking for a few simple things on a resume or vita when looking for employees. These include all archeological field experience and the type of work accomplished (e.g., survey, test excavations, block excavations, etc.), any special skills (EDM or Total Station mapping capabilities, computer skills, lithic analysis experience, etc.), and references. Often times hiring for field positions is done quickly and in a very short amount of time, so do not state that references are available upon request on your vita. List at least two or three relevant references. Employment history outside of archeology is usually irrelevant and should not be included on your vita.
Writing Skills and Publications
Having good writing skills is a must for career advancement in CRM. Developing and improving one’s writing skills should start during the undergraduate years. Potential employers like to see papers presented at conferences and publications listed on one’s resume or vita when seeking individuals for supervisory positions, such as crew chiefs and project archeologists. One simple way to gain writing experience (outside of college) and publications is through a local or regional archeological society. Many local archeological societies in Texas publish journals and newsletters on a quarterly or yearly basis. Appropriate topics for novices looking to publish a paper may include the results of a simple analysis of a collection of artifacts, or a comparison of similar artifact collections.
Many universities and colleges train archeologists for a career in academia. While such training is essential there may be some shortcomings to a standard “archeology” education if a career in CRM is your ultimate goal or place of employment. Here are a few things to consider. First, CRM is a business, introductory courses in business management would be helpful for your career. Second, with the number of special skill positions needed and available within and associated with CRM archeology it would be advantageous for one to obtain special training for a better potential of employment. This would include at least obtaining a minor in geology (particularly Quaternary geomorphology), chemistry, botany, zoology, geography (particularly GIS and cartography), history, computer science, museum studies, or even public speaking just to name a few. Those with specialized skills (e.g., palynologists, geomorphologists, vertebrate paleontologists) are often in high demand and can frequently work as independent contractors, providing their skills and services to a number of different companies. It is not out of the question to even obtaining a degree(s) in some other field, but do not forget your Anthropology/Archeology courses!
Web sites and List of Selected Archeological Societies and Professional Organizations
For additional information on a career in archeology visit “Frequently Asked Questions About a Career in Archeology in the U.S.:” http://www.museum.state.il.us/ismdepts/anthro/dlcfaq.html