Frequently asked questions

We have included the answers to some of the more common queries below, but please get in touch at membership [at] and we will be happy to help.

Who can join and benefits

Can I join?
Anyone who is prepared to subscribe to our Code of conduct and can demonstrate the relevant criteria may apply to become an accredited professional, meaning that you would have the right to make decisions about the Institute’s future. This includes paid or voluntary work, including fieldwork and specialisms. CIfA recognises that archaeologists work in many areas of research and heritage management, and can undertake archaeological work within a very broad definition of the historic environment.

I don't live and work in the UK, can I join?
Overseas applicants are welcome, but we do require examples of work to be in English as it is our official language. If you are applying from Germany please click here for more information.

Do I need a qualification to join?
No, a qualification is not compulsory. The application is based on demonstrated technical competence.

I have an accredited degree, how do I apply?
Please apply in the normal way and include this in the education section of the online form or statement template.

I am a student or haven't worked in archaeology yet, can I join?
Students and those who do not yet meet the criteria may join as non-accredited members and upgrade in the future.

What does professional accreditation mean and what are its benefits?
Professional accreditation of CIfA gives you formal recognition as someone who subscribes to high standards of professionalism and at accredited grades demonstrates that your technical competence has been validated by your peers. Membership benefits.


How much does it cost?
There is a non-refundable application fee to process applications at all grades, MCIfA £35, ACIfA £20 and PCIfA £15, upgrading costs £10. Re-joiners do not need to pay.

Accredited members pay an annual subscription fee determined by income. Concessionary rates are available. Non-accredited members pay a set annual fee.


What level should I apply to join at?
Please read Section 2 of the Application Guide for accredited applications for a breakdown of the different grades (accreditations).
Using the CIfA competence matrix you will need to determine which grade you can demonstrate through a statement of competence, two referees and portfolio of work. We also have [specialist matrices]) to help further.

How do I apply or upgrade?
All new and upgrading applicants can now apply online. Please click on the links and read the guidance to apply.

Can I save and return to the online form?
New applicants are not able to save the form and return to it, you can complete the statement of competence Word document before and then upload this when you do apply. Please make sure you have everything ready (see below) before you start the online form.
Upgrading members can save the form as long as they are logged into the website first.

What do I need to include?
Your contact details and referee contact details (ask permission first).
Complete the boxes OR attach your statement of competence about your qualifications and job roles (you MUST include this) with a list of publications from the last 2 years and examples of work (ACIfA x3 and MCIfA x5), plus any higher education certificates.
A PDP/CPD log from the last 2 years for upgrades; if you are a non-accredited member or have had a career break for any reason please submit what you can.

Can I send my references in with my application or do CIfA request them?
Either, it makes the process quicker and easier if you can provide your references with your application, but some referees prefer to keep them confidential so we can still request these. We allow two weeks for these to be returned so please ensure they are available to write one in this time. Most applications are delayed due to late references.

Do I need to list every publication and/or piece of grey literature I have done?
It helps the committee to provide a comprehensive list, but please ensure you list the last 2 years at least. PCIfA applicants can include this if they have any.

How old can my examples of work be?
Preferably within the last 2 years to support your current role. These can be any kind of written examples not just reports. PCIfA applicants can include these if they have any.

How do I send examples of work?
You can upload them into the online application form (up to 6MB per document) or use a file sharing system to send them to membership [at]
Please do not send hard copies.

How long does it take to prepare for the application and apply online?
This can vary as it depends on what you need to include and how much you want to write and includes time to read the Application Guide. We estimate preparation times of 1-2 hours for Practitioner (PCIfA), 1-3 hours for Associate (ACIfA) and 2-3 hours for Member (MCIfA). It can be useful to write your statement first and see which of your written examples support what you are saying.
The applying online part only takes around 15 minutes if you have all your information together and are uploading documents. If you choose to write into the boxes in the form, please allow additional time to complete this.

Is there a lot of paperwork to fill in?
You can apply online so the paperwork is minimal. You do need to read the Application Guide (6 page document) to see what to include and have your information, referee and payment details and documents to upload ready before applying.
The main form to complete as a Word document or written directly into the online form is the Statement of competence document/Education and employment section, this does not have to be long but needs to include your responsibilities and how you demonstrate the criteria in each section.
You can upload your Statement document directly to the online form, along with your list of publications (from the last 2 years) and any examples of work (under 6MB), plus CPD log (upgrading only).

What happens if I am unhappy with the decision?
There is an appeals process if you do not agree with the decision. See Membership regulations

Re-joiners, NVQ fast track

If my membership has lapsed can I rejoin?
Yes. Please go to the re-joiners application page

I have an NVQ level 3 in Archaeological Practice, how do I apply?
Please go to the NVQ Fasttrack application page, this will fast track you to Practitioner (PCIfA) grade.

Further guidance

Who can I ask for help?
Please email membership [at] and we will be happy to help or speak to a colleague who has applied already.
If you have any requests to make the application process more accessible for you please get in touch.