Chartered Archaeologist FAQs

The development of Chartered Archaeologist is an important step forward for the Institute and its members. We are continuing to develop our proposals and consult on them with members, but we also want to help people understand our aspirations and vision for Chartered Archaeologist, and how we’ve reached this point.

Here are our frequently asked questions about Chartered Archaeologist / individual chartered status and the current proposals. The page will be updated as plans progress and are consulted on. If you have a question that is not covered below please get in touch with Anna (anna.welch [at] or Kate (kate.geary [at]

What will a Chartered Archaeologist actually be?

A Chartered Archaeologist will be a skilled individual who has demonstrated their technical competence at Member (MCIfA) level, plus their understanding of the relevant legislation and policy, professional ethics and behaviour through CPD and a commitment to the development of the profession. Their technical competence will be tested via the current validation committee system, their professional/ethical competence will be tested via a professional review which will include a face-to-face interview with peers.

What is it for?

Chartered Archaeologist will be an externally benchmarked, and externally recognised, level of accreditation which demonstrates the high-level skills, knowledge and professionalism of archaeologists

Who will need it?

It will be for the commissioners of archaeological services, and those who advise on the requirements for archaeological work, to determine whether work needs to be undertaken by a Chartered Archaeologist. CIfA will, however, continue to promote the importance of professional accreditation with heritage agencies, local and national government, clients, and trade bodies. Some such bodies already have rules requiring individuals in other professions to be chartered in order to carry out certain work and in time, this may come to apply to Chartered Archaeologist.

Why does archaeology need it?

Chartered status is an internationally recognised and externally verified title. This provides greater recognition for the profession of archaeology and parity with other chartered professions. The Chartered Archaeologist status will inspire client and public confidence in an individual’s abilities and professionalism. The ability to grant Chartered status is only allowed to professions which work for public benefit and so it indicates to clients, professionals in other sectors, and the public that archaeology adds value to society. Chartered status will also make the profession of archaeology more attractive as a career. It will promote career pathways, attract new people into the profession and help create a sustainable future.

But isn't the Institute already chartered?

Yes, but that doesn't mean our members are automatically chartered. Being granted chartered status for the Institute was formal recognition by the State that archaeology is a bona fide profession working in the public interest. Becoming a Chartered Institute has brought benefits in terms of reputation and increased influence, notably in our advocacy work but in order to better demonstrate the high levels of competence and professionalism of our members, we need to amend the charter to allow the awarding of Chartered Archaeologist.

What exactly is the difference to the current Member (MCIfA) grade?

Currently, MCIfAs are required to demonstrate their technical competence against the four areas of the competency matrix (knowledge, autonomy, coping with complexity and perception of context) and are required to state their commitment to upholding the Code of conduct and undertaking CPD. Their ethical competence is measured through the character references we receive as part of their application, but there is no detailed test of their understanding of professional standards, ethics or behaviour in the way that is being proposed for a Chartered Archaeologist grade. Chartered Archaeologist status will also include an ongoing review process to ensure that technical and ethical knowledge and skills are being kept up to date. Continual demonstration of knowledge and skills is not something MCIfAs are currently assessed on.

Why isn't MCIfA already doing the extra stuff?

Our current requirements for MCIfA are not sufficient to be considered for chartered status. We have considered redesigning the grade to incorporate the additional requirements as described above but the time and cost to undertake the additional assessment for all MCIfAs would be prohibitive, particularly as not all MCIfAs will need or want to become Chartered. In addition, the external recognition that is attached to chartered label is one which we feel will be a beneficial change in terms of perception of archaeologists by others.

Will MCIfA still exist as a meaningful level?

Yes. There may be a significant number of MCIfAs who, because of their role or their circumstances, won’t need or want to be chartered. MCIfA demonstrates a high level of competence and this will continue to be recognised within the archaeological profession.

What about the original, self-validated, MCIfAs? Will they be able to apply for Chartered Archaeologist?

All applicants for Chartered Archaeologist will need to have been validated at MCIfA level. That means any applicant who was self-validated back in the early years of the Institute will need to submit evidence to the Validation Committee to demonstrate their competence at MCIfA level before they can apply for Chartered Archaeologist.

I am PCIfA/ACIfA. Why can’t I apply for Chartered Archaeologist?

The proposals for Chartered Archaeologist status and the existing MCIfA grade are not intended to be exclusive grades. Both should be considered to be accessible for members at lower grades who set reasonable goals for career development. Chartered Archaeologist is not intended to be an honorific title given in recognition of length of service or high standing in a profession, nor is it necessarily a measure of seniority. It should be noted that roughly 50% of all accredited CIfA members already hold the MCIfA grade. Although there are different models for individual chartership in different professions, by far the most common is for Chartered status to be awarded in recognition of the highest level of technical and ethical competence. Some organisations additionally offer ‘Fellow’ status or similar as a mark of seniority but this is not usually deemed to necessarily indicate a higher level of skill or competence than chartership. CIfA do not currently offer a parallel honorific to this, although others are available within the discipline.

Will heads of Registered Organisations (ROs) have to be chartered?

At present, we have no plans to require heads of ROs or Responsible Post Holders (RPHs) to become chartered. However, current policy for ROs is do require RPHs to be MCIfA. There is an argument to be made that RPHs are key individuals who should exemplify competences associated with the new chartered grade. We will be discussing this issue with RPHs as plans progress. Any changes to policy would likely require agreement and an appropriate lead-in period.

I'm a sole trader, will I need to be chartered if I want to do work in commercial sector?

That will be for your clients to decide. However, CIfA already recommends that national heritage agencies, local government, client sector bodies use appropriately professionally accredited archaeologists, wherever required. Some such bodies already have rules requiring individuals in other professions to be chartered in order to carry out certain work and in time, this may come to apply to Chartered Archaeologist.

Will I need to be a CIfA member to be chartered?

Anyone who can demonstrate MCIfA skills could apply to be a Chartered Archaeologist, but if you haven’t already demonstrated MCIfA level skills, you will need to pass the validation process at this level before you can progress to the professional review stage for Chartered Archaeologist. However, in practice, you will be able to apply for both at the same time.

I’m an [insert specialism] archaeologist. Can I be chartered?

Yes. As with our accredited grades, Chartered Archaeologist will be open to any individual who can demonstrate they meet the requirements. As with MCIfA level, we expect that archaeologists from all branches and all specialisms of the profession to be able to achieve chartership. Systems like the specialist matrices used to assess existing membership grades will be used where specific contexts would benefit from it.

I don’t have a paid role in archaeology – can I be Chartered?

Yes. Archaeologists who are volunteers will be eligible for chartership if they can demonstrate the criteria required and keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Will I be able to keep my Chartered status on retirement?

The Privy Council Office advises that Chartered status is only available to ‘practicing’ archaeologists. Therefore, retired archaeologists may not be eligible, in some circumstances if they no longer maintain an active involvement in archaeology. However, if a retired archaeologist is still involved as a volunteer (e.g. in a local archaeology society or on a CIfA special interest group committee) and continues to keep their skills and knowledge up to day, they would remain eligible. Retired archaeologists can also opt for ‘retired MCIfA’ status if they are no longer working. Chartered Archaeologist is not an honorific or a badge of long service.

Will I be able to keep my Chartered status if I am temporarily unemployed, sick, or taking a career break?

Yes. If you are temporarily unemployed, sick, or taking a career break, you are still considered to be practicing and will be entitled to maintain chartered status. However, chartered status will be subject to regular review and Chartered Archaeologists will be expected to keep their knowledge and skills up to date as appropriate to their circumstances. We are exploring options for flexibility with regard to any expectations placed on those with temporarily reduced capabilities, for example as a result of illness, if they choose to maintain their chartered status.

How much will it cost?

The cost of implementing and the exact fee members will pay will depend on the application process which still needs to be approved by members and by the Privy Council. Fees charged by other professional bodies which award chartered status vary but most are in the region of a £300 - £350 application fee. Annual subscriptions also vary significantly but we envisage annual subscriptions being on a par with the current MCIfA rates.

Will fees go up for other grades as well?

Applications fees and annual subscriptions are reviewed each year by the Board of Directors as part of budget setting. There are no plans for any additional increases as a result of the introduction of Chartered Archaeologist

How will CIfA ensure that people are not excluded from achieving/retaining chartered status because of lack of funds, career breaks to have a family, illness or disability?

CIfA currently provides concessionary membership rates for members earning below the recommended minima salary for their grade. This helps to mitigate against low earnings, part-time work, illness, disability, temporary unemployment, or career breaks and this provision would be extended to the Chartered Archaeologist grade. We will consult with our Equality and Diversity Special Interest Group on the appropriate provision and support for members taking career breaks for health or family reasons.

What's the timescale for Chartered Archaeologist?

See the Charter timeline for more detail. We intend to ask members to approve the proposal and petition to amend the Charter by-law and regulations at an EGM at CIfA Conference in April 2019. It is important that we undertake as much consultation as is required and take all necessary time to ensure that we have the best possible proposals. This process should not be rushed. If the proposal is approved, it will be submitted to the Privy Council and, if we are granted permission to amend the Charter by-law, we envisage approximately 12 months of development work to ensure that we have the structures in place to begin assessing applications for Chartered Archaeologist.

How will the initial flood of applications be processed in a short timespan?

At this stage, we don’t know what the likely demand will be although it wouldn’t seem unreasonable to assume that we might be dealing with several hundred applications in the first few years as existing MCIfAs seek to upgrade. We will undertake more work to assess this as part of the detailed drafting and costing, and talk to other Professional Institutes about how have they dealt with demand following the introduction of a chartered grade. We won't start to invite applications for Chartered Archaeologist until we are confident that the resources are in place to process and assess them in a timely manner.

Will there be an exam?

Not in the sense of a traditional paper-based exam; understanding of professional standards and ethics will be tested via a professional review at which the applicant will be expected to talk through a piece (or pieces) of work they have responsibility for and will be questioned on their understanding of applicable standards, the Code of conduct etc. The specific mechanisms by which we will test competences are set out in our formal proposal.

Who will assess the assessors?

The assessors will be drawn from an expanded Validation Committee, bringing in specific technical expertise where necessary. We will also seek to draw on the expertise of our NVQ assessors who are qualified and experienced in assessing competence against National Occupational Standards and the experience of those of our members who hold Chartered status with other professional bodies.

What will my post nominals be?
We do not know yet. Feedback from members indicates that the post-nominals should be clear and easily identifiable.

How will clients be able to tell if Chartered Archaeologists are able to do the job they are being employed for? Won’t they assume that they can do all aspects of archaeological work?

It is not unusual that a single chartered institute will cover a range of specialisms (e.g. Chartered Engineer). CIfA members should only take on work they know they are competent to undertake.

How will CIfA ensure that Chartered Archaeologist status is recognised abroad?

Although not recognised in a formal sense abroad, chartered status awarded by the Privy Council has a good reputation outside the UK in a number of professions.

Will I be able to call myself an archaeologist if I'm not chartered?

Yes. Only Chartered Archaeologist will become a protected title.

Will Chartered status be comparable to ‘licencing’ in other parts of the world?


The profession faces many challenges. Is the focus on Chartered Archaeologist taking away resources that could be used to address problems such as access to training, career development and promoting the need for professional standards?

The development of Chartered Archaeologist is one part of a much broader programme of work to promote professionalism. This has been the key focus for CIfA for many years and has included promoting the value of archaeology and the importance of professional accreditation and professional standards to the client sector, the development of alternative routes into archaeology through NVQs, apprenticeships and employer training schemes and support and resources for CPD. These remain priority areas for CIfA and work on them will continue