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Who becomes an archaeologist anyways? People whose careers are in ruins. Archaeologists are passionate about studying human behavior, ancient civilizations, and dead people’s garbage.

To become an archaeologist, you must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, archaeology, history, or a related subject like underwater shipwreck exploration. Once you’ve given an ounce of blood, sweat, and tears by surviving a field school where you learned how to dig nice square pits, you’re qualified to be a “shovel bum,” as entry-level field techs are lovingly called. Eventually you can work your way up to crew chief and make other people buy you beer.

If you’ve decided you like to live in motels and walk 10 miles a day on archaeological survey, you’ll go on to earn a master’s degree in anthropology, archaeology, or cultural resource management. You need an MA to meet the federal standards to be an archaeological project director or field supervisor who may educate tourists at a national park or monitor a backhoe as it claws through an urban site. Because archaeology is a highly competitive field, a graduate degree can help you move up in the ranks of a CRM firm or qualify you for a teaching job at a community college.

If you’re really masochistic, you might go on to earn your PhD in order to work in leadership roles, like principle investigator or university professor. It’s a lot of school, but much of it isn’t listening to a professor drone on about tribesmen in New Guinea. You’ll go out to conduct fieldwork with other archaeology students, and may be given a team of undergraduate minions to train.

And you must have a fedora and a bull whip. No ifs, ands or buts about it.