Information for employers

Early career development: why it matters
An archaeologist stands in a feature under excavation.
© Wessex Archaeology

Through the Registered Organisation scheme, CIfA is ensuring archaeologists undergo a period of formally supervised professional training, placing them on the pathway to professional accreditation. Structured training programmes have been used very effectively and successful models exist which organisations can adapt to their own training needs. A professional, skilled and competent workforce is key to the sector's aspirations for parity in remuneration and respect. Structured training can provide this.

The National Occupational Standards in Archaeological Practice (NOS) break down the knowledge and skills needed to perform virtually every aspect of work undertaken in the sector. When you choose to train in a particular skill or set of skills, all you need to do is identify the appropriate Standard and its requirements and ensure that, after training, the Standard has been met.  

What can you do?

Download your copy of CIfA's professional practice paper - An introduction to providing career entry training in your organisation (PDF).

Find out how to map learning objectives to National Occupational Standards (Word docx).

Look at this example of a plan to train excavation skills to Practitioner level (PDF).

Carry out a skills audit for your organisation. View an example of a template for conducting a skills audit against the National Occupational Standards in Archaeological Practice:

Read CIfA’s Guide to developing a training plan (PDF) which defines what is meant by a training plan along with some ideas about how to develop one.

See the links below for information on specific skillsets (all documents are Word doc files unless specified):


Archaeologist looking at map, photo Headland Archaeology
© Headland Archaeology
© University of Reading

Remember to include a learning agreement so that your trainees know what they can expect from their training, and what will be expected from them. View an example of a learning agreement (Word doc).

Get your training plans and learning opportunities CIfA Approved to highlight their high quality. CIfA approved employer training schemes are accepted by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme and trainees on them are eligible to apply to CSCS for a Trainee card after passing the CITB Operatives level 'Health, safety and environment' test.

Offer trainees the National Vocational Qualification in Archaeological Practice (NVQ) which provides a route map to meeting the NOS, guiding candidates to bespoke sets of new skills or competencies at entry level. NVQs are seen as a route to professional status by CIfA, who offer fast track accreditation at Practitioner (PCIfA) level to those with a level 3 NVQ in Archaeological Practice.

Take on an apprentice. New apprenticeships for historic environment roles in England have been approved for delivery. Email for further information. Skills and training in the UK are devolved issues and different processes are in place for the development and delivery of apprenticeships in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, a group of employers are working with CIfA, sector partners and colleges to develop vocational provision including Modern Apprenticeships. Contact for more information.

Look out for graduates with CIfA Accredited degrees which acknowledge practical skills and competencies built into degree programmes.  

Advertise your training. Our weekly Jobs Information Service & Training (JIST) bulletin is a comprehensive source of information about work and training opportunities in archaeology and related disciplines and is sent to CIfA members. It includes adverts placed directly by employers and all archaeological, heritage, research and training opportunities that appear in the national press and specialist journals during that week. CIfA Approved training and CPD can be advertised free of charge.

Be proud of your training and enter it for the Archaeology Training Forum Award. The Archaeology Training Forum (ATF) has been recognising excellence and innovation in training, learning and professional development since 2011 through its award.

Why should I take on an apprentice?

Employers are already seeing the rewards that Trailblazer Historic Environment apprenticeships, available in England, can offer. Designed and developed by employers, for employers, the apprenticeships are available at different levels to fill skills gaps and create workforce capacity throughout the profession. Trailblazer apprenticeships take the essential qualities for people working today in the historic environment sector and set them into competence standards that all apprentices must meet. This means that anyone who holds a historic environment apprenticeship qualification has demonstrated their expertise by going through a rigorous assessment process where they have proven that they can do the job, consistently, to those high industry standards. You can use apprenticeships to

  • tailor your staff training to your company’s needs
  • upskill your existing workforce to add value to your business
  • widen and diversify your workforce
  • claim back 95–100 per cent of training costs

There are seven historic environment-sector apprenticeship standards:

A note about apprenticeship levels

The levels refer to the degree of complexity in each role. They link to a national framework that all accredited qualifications are measured against. To give you an idea of what the levels mean, GCSEs are categorised as level 2 qualifications and A levels are at level 3.

What will it cost?

If you pay the Apprenticeship Levy you can claim it back to pay for their training; if you don’t pay the levy, you can still claim 95 per cent of training costs. You will pay your apprentices a wage and any transport or accommodation costs. 

How does it work?

Apprenticeship programmes vary in length, usually depending on the qualification level. Your apprentices will be employees who spend 20 per cent of their working hours in off-the-job learning (taught sessions and individual or group study) while they learn on-the-job skills with you. These will be skills that your business needs to thrive, and you will be training the apprentices to the high standards that you demand of your workforce.

If you want to know more about employing an apprentice you can find about Historic Environment Trailblazer apprenticeships on Historic England’s website and they have also produced a leaflet and postcard. There is more information for employers on the website.

Apprenticeship training is a collaboration between employers and training providers. Training providers manage the training programmes and arrange elements of training that employers cannot provide, which might include underpinning knowledge about British archaeology and ‘soft skills’. They can also arrange industry skills such as health and safety training.

How is it tested?

The apprenticeship standards break competence down into three areas: knowledge, skills and behaviours, so apprentices do much more than study subject knowledge. They also have to prove that they can apply skills and behaviours to succeed in the job. This means that apprentices can gain credit for not just what they do, but how they do it.

At the end of their training every apprentice goes through a process known as end-point assessment, which is an assessment of their workplace knowledge, skills and behaviours at the end of their programme. Each apprenticeship standard uses a mix of different assessment methods, which could include

  • an online test
  • an observation of the apprentice carrying out tasks in the workplace
  • a professional discussion, supported by a portfolio of evidence, where the apprentice showcases the work they’ve carried out during the programme
  • a project focusing on a specific piece of work, where the apprentice carries out the work and then produces a professional report that is discussed with their assessor

All end-point assessment is carried out by government-recognised assessment organisations (EPAOs) who have to meet rigorous operational standards, along with the assessors who conduct the assessments. CIfA is a recognised EPAO, so if you have any questions about how apprenticeship assessment works, please drop us a line at assessment [at]

How do I find a training provider?

The following training providers are either delivering or planning to deliver historic environment apprenticeships:

Apprentices at St Andrews Church, Taunton © Historic England

Are historic environment apprenticeships offered outside England?

Historic environment apprenticeships are only available in England, but the devolved nations also have opportunities for other related apprenticeships and training:

Northern Ireland

There are currently no apprenticeships in archaeology in Northern Ireland, but there are two AIM apprenticeships in cultural heritage that are eligible for ApprenticeshipsNI funding.; general information web resource about apprenticeships and a list of apprenticeships, including cultural heritage management, project management and surveying.

Other subjects

There are other apprenticeships such as administration or project management that might be useful to consider if historic environment apprenticeships are not available in your area.

What is a traineeship?

Traineeships are learning and development programmes aimed at 16–24-year-olds. They can help to prepare young people for specific roles, or they might lead on to an apprenticeship. You can also give your current employees opportunities to train and mentor trainees, which, in turn, will increase their own skillset.

Traineeships typically last for six months and you can find out more about them on the website

Some archaeological employers have already taken on young people on traineeships with great success.

What are CIfA-approved employer training schemes?

If you do not already offer training to early career archaeologists, read the Training toolkit [LINK] to see how you can provide good-quality training to those starting out. 

If you have training plans and learning opportunities for new starters, consider applying for them to be CIfA-approved to highlight their high quality.

Employer training schemes are a valuable way for archaeologists to gain skills and experience in real work situations. They must be structured, supervised and promote high standards of ethical and responsible behaviour. Practitioner accreditation (PCIfA) represents the minimum level of competence of a practising archaeologist. In order for your employer archaeologist-training to receive the CIfA Approved Training & CPD mark, you must be able to demonstrate that its goal is to equip your employee with PCIfA-level competence.

What are the benefits?

Employer training is vital to build on knowledge and skills learnt at university or on apprenticeships and training courses and will ensure that your new employees are confident and competent early career archaeologists.

CIfA-approved employer training schemes are accepted by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme and trainees on them are eligible to apply to CSCS for a Trainee card after passing the CITB Operatives level ‘Health, safety and environment’ test.

How does it work?

Once you are ready to get your employer training scheme assessed, we ask you to submit written evidence to support an application for it to become CIfA Approved Training & CPD. This is appraised against the assessment criteria outlined below. We then either approve your training scheme or we give you feedback, and you can resubmit.

Once your employer training scheme has been approved, we will send you written guidelines for the logo usage together with a suite of logo files. Your approved training scheme will appear on the CIfA website with a link to your website. Any CIfA Approved Training & CPD learning opportunity may be randomly selected for reassessment at any time. You will be asked to return an annual monitoring form and the scheme will be revisited every three years.

  • Employer training schemes being submitted for approval must demonstrate they provide
  • appropriate and achievable learning outcomeslearning outcomes set out in terms of National Occupational Standards (NOS)
  • learning outcomes that cover understanding of relevant ethical issues
  • learning outcomes that will meet the criteria for CIfA accreditation
  • active encouragement of a CPD culture
  • supervision/tuition undertaken by appropriately competent and accredited organisations and individuals

We can provide support in meeting the criteria, for example in linking learning outcomes to NOS. Additional fees apply. Please contact us for details.

Is there a cost and how do I find out more?

The assessment and approval fee for a single employer training scheme is £335. Please note there is no fee for employer training schemes provided by CIfA Registered Organisations.

To get things started, please contact Anna Welch at CIfA via approvedcpd [at] for an informal discussion.

What are accredited degrees?

Accredited undergraduate or master’s degree programmes are a well-established career entry route in many sectors including engineering, planning and architecture, and are widely recognised as the first step on a career pathway leading to professional status. In the UK, professional accreditation is normally provided by the lead professional body within the discipline.

Accreditation of archaeology degrees in the UK is offered jointly by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and the University Archaeology UK group (UAUK). The accreditation procedure is jointly overseen, managed, and endorsed by CIfA and UAUK.

What can I expect from graduates of an accredited degree programme?

Accredited degree programmes recognise training in appropriate and relevant skills for a career in the historic environment sector and embed professional standards into archaeology degrees in the UK. There is greater emphasis on ensuring that graduates are equipped for the workplace should they wish to pursue a career in archaeology, and students are encouraged to achieve professional accreditation of those skills. 

Students on accredited degree programmes have the opportunities to gain skills and knowledge that employers value. They should have gained confidence in their practical skills and have a wider knowledge of professional and ethical working practices.

Which universities offer CIfA/UAUK accredited degrees?

  • Bournemouth University BSc (Hons) Archaeology, BA (Hons) Archaeology, BSc (Hons) Archaeological, Anthropological and Forensic Sciences, BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Queen's University Belfast CIfA/UAUK-accredited module pathway in Archaeology
  • University of Aberdeen BSc Archaeology, MA Archaeology
  • University of Bradford BSc Archaeology, BSc Forensic Archaeology & Anthropology 
  • University of Bristol BA Archaeology & Anthropology
  • University of Cambridge BA (Hons) in Archaeology
  • University of Canterbury Christ Church pathway through BA Archaeology.
  • University of Central Lancashire BSc in Archaeology, MSci in Archaeology, BSc in Archaeology and Anthropology
  • University of Chester BA Archaeology
  • University College London BA Archaeology, BA Archaeology and Anthropology, BA Archaeology with a Year Abroad (4 year), BA Archaeology with a Year’s Placement (4 year), BA Archaeology of Egypt and Sudan, BA Classical Archaeology and Classical Civilisation, BSc Archaeology
  • University of Durham BA Archaeology, BSc Archaeology, BA Archaeology and Ancient Civilisations, BA Archaeology and Historical World
  • University of Leicester BSc Archaeology
  • University of Reading BA Archaeology, BSc Archaeology
  • University of Winchester BA Archaeology, BSc Archaeology, BSc Archaeological Practice, BSc Archaeological Practice with Professional Placement
  • University of York Core modules pathway through BA Archaeology, BSc Archaeology, BA Archaeology & Heritage, BA Historical Archaeology, BSc Bioarchaeology, BA Archaeology (with a Year Abroad), BSc Archaeology (with a Year Abroad), BA Archaeology & Heritage (with a Year Abroad). BA Historical Archaeology (with a Year Abroad), BSc Bioarchaeology (with a Year Abroad).

What is the NVQ3 in Archaeological Practice?

The L3 Certificate in Archaeological Practice (National Vocational Qualification) is delivered in the workplace and candidates are assessed carrying out workplace tasks. For example, in one of the units of the Archaeological Practice NVQ, candidates are assessed on how well they contribute to intrusive investigations, e.g. excavation. This means that an assessor will observe them carrying out tasks to demonstrate that they can complete that job to the right standard. There’s a strong focus on workplace performance, complemented by the knowledge and understanding to support it.  

How can I use it in the workplace?

If you already run an employer training course or take on apprentices, the NVQ can run alongside it, with trainees building up a portfolio of work that is externally assessed. It provides a recognised qualification and evidence of skills for anyone you employ who does not have a formal qualification in archaeology or who would like to extend their skillset through projects based in their workplace. You can choose to offer the NVQ to staff and fund their qualification or support those who have chosen to take on the qualification by providing opportunities with your company. These might include volunteers or people interested in changing careers.

What benefits are there for employers?

The NVQ is a proactive way to train staff and has many benefits for employers:

  • helps you to attract, retain and motivate staff
  • raises performance
  • attests a job candidate’s capability
  • ensures employees are up to date
  • demonstrates a commitment to training and standards (particularly useful if you are a Registered Organisation or thinking of becoming one)
  • is ‘on the job’ – so minimises down timeprovides the structure to deliver quality training
  • successful candidates have a ‘fast track’ to CIfA Practitioner accreditation the SQA website.

You can find out more about the NVQ3 in Archaeological practice here and if you’re interested in the qualification for your workforce, contact us at assessment [at] and we can explain what your options are and our current fees.