Licensing and Standards

The definition of a professional archaeologist varies from country to country, as do the qualifications required to become one. In some countries, specific academic qualifications are required to be considered as a professional, others operate a licensing system for archaeologists. The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (‘Valletta Convention’) 1992 states ‘that excavations and other potentially destructive techniques are carried out only by qualified, specially authorised persons’.



In most European countries, this is managed through a system of licensing, whereby only those holding a licence can undertake certain sorts of archaeological work. The qualifications for obtaining a licence vary from country to country but are generally based on a combination of qualifications, experience and track record.

The European Association of Archaeologists is the association for all professional archaeologists in Europe. Its members are bound by a Code of Practice (http://www.e-a-a.org/codeprac.htm) and Principles of Conduct (http://www.e-a-a.org/princond.htm) which promote proper ethical and scientific standards for archaeological work.

Most countries also have their own standards, codes of conduct and good practice guidance covering archaeological work. In the UK, the professional body for archaeologists is the Institute for Archaeologists; members abide by a Code of Conduct and Code of approved practice and it publishes Standards and guidance for various aspects of archaeological work. As well as individual members, it operates a Registered Organisations scheme. Registered Organisations have to meet certain standards with regards their work, abide by the Code of Conduct and are assessed every two years. Developers in the UK are strongly encouraged to use Registered Organisations wherever possible.

AustriaA degree in Archaeology at, at least, Masters level (there is also a class of Mitarbeiter – ‘co-worker’)
BelgiumFirst degree in Archaeology
Cyprus First degree with specialisation in Archaeology
Czech Republic Masters degree in Archaeology or equivalent
Germany A Doctorate or Magister in Archaeology
Greece First degree with specialisation in Archaeology
Hungary Masters degree in Archaeology
Ireland No legal definition
Netherlands A Doctorate, Doctorandus or Magister in Archaeology
Norway Masters degree in Archaeology or equivalent1
Poland First degree in Archaeology
Slovakia Magister degree in Archaeology or equivalent
Slovenia Masters degree in Archaeology or equivalent
Turkey First degree in Archaeology
United Kingdom No legal definition
Legal definition of an archaeologist in some European countries (after Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe project report)
AustriaArchaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level
BelgiumArchaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level
Cyprus Archaeology or joint degree with specialisation in Archaeology
Czech Republic Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level
Germany Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level (depending on local regulations)
Greece Archaeology or joint degree with specialisation in Archaeology, plus 3 years minimum experience for a rescue excavation, or 5 years for a research excavation
Hungary Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level
Ireland Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level
Netherlands Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level or Doctorandus, but with a newly introduced system of certification
Norway Work in field only in institutions project: Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level2
Poland Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level plus 12 months of field experience after completion of Masters degree
Slovakia Archaeology degree at Masters or Doctoral level
Slovenia ‘University graduate in Archaeology’, level not yet specified, but in practice at Masters or Doctoral level
Turkey Archaeology degree at Doctoral level
United Kingdom Not applicable, except in Northern Ireland. Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent on protected sites and Licences are required for work on Protected Shipwrecks.
1 Archaeologist is not a protected job title in Norway.
2 Each institution, mentioned in the Cultural Heritage Act, is responsible for site and craftsmanship.
Requirement for an excavation permit in some European countries (after Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe project report)