I recently received a question from a fan of the CRM Archaeology Podcast Network over at the Archaeology Podcast Network's page (a subsidiary of DIGTECH.media). Here is the question:
I am a senior Business Management major at the University of Central Arkansas. Recently I've found a strong interest in Anthropology and want to carry it over into my career. I've been doing research and from what I've learned from you and many other internet archaeologists my most practical job outlook is the CRM field.
Here is my question: I've decided to finish my business degree since I only have two semesters left; BUT, my school just recently created an anthro degree that only requires 33 course hours. Would it be to my advantage to stay one extra year and graduate with a double major in business management/anthro PRIOR to applying for a graduate anthropology program? My main interest is doing field work so I would think an anthro degree could be used if I ever wanted to keep quiet about having a masters and just do field work. Also since it would only take two semesters it really wouldn't be out of the way. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
The questioner's name is William and he's given permission to use his name.
Where, oh where, to begin? I guess at the very top. First, FINISH YOUR BUSINESS DEGREE. Whatever you decide, do that. A business degree is applicable to so many fields of study where archaeology is not.
"Recently...strong interest in Anthropology..." When did this develop? Is it something you've always thought about? For me, I've wanted to be an archaeologist since I saw the first Indiana Jones movie in the theater. Typical story of an archaeologist born in the 70s, I know, but it's a fact. Choosing a career in not just archaeology, but, CRM archaeology is a major decision. Since this field is very particular in it's lifestyle and since you can't do a whole lot EXCEPT archaeology with it, I suggest not going into it lightly. Make sure it's something you really want to do. In fact, go to a field school. Find one that has an emphasis on CRM in an area where you'd like to work.
If anyone is considering a field school and doesn't know what to look for, let me know and I'll tell you what to look for and what questions to ask.
For William, I'd suggest taking a field school over next summer. It might be too late, but, you need it. If you can find one that operates over the winter, then do that.
"...anthro degree that only requires 33 course hours..." I know this can be done in two semesters, but, it's unlikely that you'll do well. That's a lot of study and most upper-level courses require research projects and a lot of writing. It'd be a good primer for grad school, that's for sure. Don't bite off more than you can chew. That being said, if you just want the degree so you can move on to bigger and better things then go for it. Much of what you'll need for CRM won't be taught in your classes. You'll learn some foundational concepts but if it's focused on Anthropology then you won't learn a lot about the science and practice of archaeology.
Either way, if you plan to go to a grad school for anthropology then I'd say get the degree and DO a field school. If you can, find a job, even if for a field season, and do some CRM archaeology. We've all worked with people that were thrown into leadership positions because they had a Master's degree but didn't actually have any field experience. They weren't the best people. Good intentions, sure, but not good leaders. Everyone is different, though, and you don't have to apply for jobs you don't think you're qualified for.
I guess my advice to you is to actually find a way to do some archaeology, preferably CRM archaeology. It'll be difficult without the degree and you might have to volunteer, but, it'll provide you with a snapshot of what the field is like. Also, don't listen to just a few people. Get some experience and listen to a lot of people. Then, make your own decision. You can talk to 20 people in CRM right now and get 20 different opinions about the field.
If you have time, listen to the Profiles in CRM podcast on the Archaeology Podcast Network. As of this writing, there are 39 interviews with CRM Archaeologists at various points in their careers. It's a lot of great advice for someone trying to make it in this business.
Finally, when you do have a graduate degree AND a business degree, give me a call. I could use someone with a business background!
Check out the audio response to this question on the CRM Archaeology Podcast - Episode 70.
Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!!