Working with professionally accredited archaeologists and Registered Organisations

A professional archaeologist can be trusted to carry out work to high professional standards and in the public interest. A professional archaeologist will not sell you services you don’t need and will help you to carry out your obligations in a way that is beneficial to you and to others.

CIfA has three progressive levels of accredited membership. CIfA Members (MCIfA) are accredited professionals with the highest level of understanding of the sector and its requirements, able to take full responsibility and be accountable for their own work and to deal with complex issues. Individuals can also be accredited as Associate (ACIfA) and Practitioner (PCIfA) level members. All levels of membership demonstrate a commitment to professional practice and recognition of a certain level of knowledge and experience but archaeological projects should be led by a Member.

In addition to individual accredited members, Registered Organisations are businesses and suppliers of archaeological services that are also members of CIfA. The Registered Organisations scheme is a unique quality assurance scheme in archaeology. It is a ‘kite mark’ indicating high professional standards and competence. All businesses in the Registered Organisation scheme are assessed and inspected by CIfA. They have demonstrated they have the skills to provide informed and reliable advice and execute appropriate schemes of work while minimising uncertainty, delays and cost. These businesses subscribe to the same codes of professional conduct and practice as individual members.

Depending on your particular needs, you may wish to employ a different type of accredited archaeologist. Usually a consultant archaeologist can point you in the right direction, but it’s worth knowing that different consultants and specialists are used to working for different clients and on different types of project. All of these archaeologists are professional experts in their own field, but virtually none is an expert across the whole field. Be clear on the nature of your project when you approach archaeologists to tender for work or to provide advice.

You may wish to procure your archaeologist through direct appointment, competitive tender or other means. It is important that you are clear in your invitation to tender how offers for archaeological services will be judged (fee only, quality only, quality and fee, fee and initial project design), bearing in mind that offers based on price alone which do not specify exactly how the work will be delivered could exclude major components and thereby present a risk to your project.

Every year CIfA publishes a Directory listing our professionally accredited members and Registered Organisations. If you would like to receive a copy of this, please get in touch with us at admin [at] . You can also find details of our Registered Organisations on our website at

Check that the archaeologist you approach has worked

  • at the local/regional/national/international level – whichever is appropriate to your project
  • on projects that deliver similar outcomes to your project
  • in a multi-disciplinary design team, if required for your project
  • at project level, and can report to a project team in a way that will be understood
    to professional standards across their portfolio
  • within project communication and reporting structures that are similar to yours

Tell the archaeologist

  • whether you already have a brief for their work, or if developing the brief is part of the commission
  • what outcomes you are looking for from archaeology on your project
  • what your budget is likely to be
  • what the constraints are on archaeological work
  • whether there are any risks you foresee

Regulation and professional conduct procedures

The Institute’s professional conduct process and its sanctions underpin its primary function of public and consumer protection. Its professional conduct process is subject to annual external review.

Anyone may raise a complaint if they believe that a member or a Registered Organisation has failed to comply with the CIfA Code of conduct or regulations of the Institute, identifying the relevant principle(s) and rule(s) that have allegedly been breached.

All cases need supporting evidence to proceed. CIfA will not get involved in contractual or professional disputes other than allegations of misconduct, except where parties have agreed to be subject to its arbitration scheme. Members and Registered Organisations have the right to appeal.

You can find further guidance about regulation and professional conduct on our website at

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