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What Education Is Needed to Become a Marine Archaeologist?

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Marine archaeology, a sub-specialty in the field of archaeology, focuses on underwater explorations of sites with potential historical value. Marine archaeologists may work in freshwater or saltwater environments. You’ll need a minimum of a master’s degree to work in the field, and if you plan to teach or to work outside the United States, a doctorate is usually required.

Your Basic Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that you must have at least a master's degree to teach archaeology, and foreign countries often have stringent requirements for archaeological exploration that can be met only if you have a doctorate. Expect to spend at least six years getting a bachelor’s degree and a master's degree, and several additional years to complete your doctoral requirements. A doctorate typically requires a dissertation. In addition, you may want to take courses that are not offered in an archaeological program. For example, if you will be conducting underwater explorations, you should learn to scuba dive.

Graduate Programs

The website of the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology notes that a limited number of institutions offered graduate programs in marine or underwater archaeology in 2013. Some institutions offer studies in marine archaeology or related fields even if they don’t offer an actual graduate degree. Each program may have a slightly different focus, such as North American archaeology, ancient history or a particular period in history, so do your research. Field work will be done at the university’s current sites, and some may offer better opportunities than others.

2016 Salary Information for Anthropologists and Archeologists

Anthropologists and archeologists earned a median annual salary of $63,190 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, anthropologists and archeologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,240, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $81,430, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 7,600 people were employed in the U.S. as anthropologists and archeologists.