Associate (ACIfA)

Associate-level archaeologist works with bones in a lab.

Associate (ACIfA) grade accreditation is open to those who:

  • have a high level of working knowledge within an area of historic environment practice
  • have considerable responsibility for undertaking work in a variety of situations using their own judgement
  • have carried out complex work within an established framework
  • perceive the importance of their role within the team and the work they undertake
  • Agree to be bound by CIfA's ethical Code of conduct
  • wish to reflect their knowledge and skills through professional accreditation

If you are unsure if you are ready to apply for ACIfA, please see our Professional pathways webpage.

How to apply

To apply at ACIfA, you will need to provide two appropriate references and prepare a statement of competence about your employed or voluntary work and how your current role demonstrates the criteria. You will also need to include examples of work to support your statement. 

Please read the information in the headings below carefully before applying. Refer to our FAQ page for further details.

All applications are treated as confidential in line with CIfA’s Data Protection Policy. If you are unsure of how to approach your application, please membership [at] (contact us).

Personal details

Please provide your name, job title, post nominals where relevant, and contact details. 


In order to help the Validation Committee understand more about your professionalism, your understanding of the CIfA Code of conduct and your determination and ability to comply with it, we ask for two references to support your application. You can provide referees' contact details in the online application form.

We will contact referees on receipt of your application or you can upload them to the online form, which will speed up the process. Referees should complete the CIfA reference template (See templates section, below) commenting on your work with specific examples to support your application in relation to the criteria, which you base your application.

ACIfA applicants should

  • Use their current or most recent employer.
  • Include a second referee who is aware of your knowledge and skills and can comment on your current work - e.g. a current or former supervisor. They can be from a previous employer or your current employer if you have only worked in one organisation.
  • Your second referee can also be someone external to your employer - e.g. a local planning archaeologist, a funding body such as HLF or a volunteer, such as a community group or a CIfA special interest group.

We advise discussing your application with your employer to ensure they can provide a supportive reference for your application.


  • do not have to be CIfA accredited. However, individual members and those working for Registered Organisations are preferable since it helps if they understand our work and accreditations.
  • must be familiar with your role and the work you are using as evidence in your statement. They should be able to comment on the quality of your current work and your professionalism.
  • are given two weeks to return their reference. Missing or late references are the most common reason for delays to application - please contact your referees in advance to ensure that they can provide you with a reference in time.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the references are returned in time, although CIfA will contact referees for missing references and inform you as soon as possible if your application is awaiting responses from referees.

The Validation committee reserves the right to request additional references, if required, to reach a decision about your application. This is usually in cases where a reference is not current or does not include enough information to assist the committee in making a decision in full.

ACIfA applicants must provide a statement outlining their education and employed or voluntary roles and say how their current role demonstrates the four areas of the competence matrix. Please include a list of publications here too, where relevant.

The information you provide using the Statement of competence template to upload or in the boxes on the online form is the most important part of your application and is the primary method the committee use to assess how you meet the criteria. Please note that incomplete new applications online cannot be saved and returned to.

CIfA have developed a suite of specialist competence matrices to assist applicants who work in specialist areas and this can be used alongside the main competence matrix.


Please list your degree qualification, title, University and date of completion and a brief outline of the areas covered. If you work in academia, please provide a more detailed outline. Please upload a copy of your certificates, where relevant.

If you do not hold any qualifications, you are still eligible to apply.

Employed or voluntary roles

For each role you have held give the job title, company name, start and end dates, and a brief description of the role and the responsibilities held. Ensure you start with your most recent role and include your entire career.

For your current and most recent roles over the last two years (where relevant), please give detailed information about your main responsibilities, focusing on what you do as the main part of your role and using specific examples to cover how you demonstrate the four areas of the competence matrix - knowledge, autonomy, coping with complexity and perception of context. 

We also suggest you highlight within the statement the examples of work (see section below) you are providing to support your application.

You can approach your statement of competence in different ways

  1. write it like a job application, describing your main responsibilities and how these fit into the four areas of the competence matrix.
  2. use the four areas of the competence matrix as headings, write something for each and describe an example of where you did this.
  3. write about a specific piece of work or project

If your experience has been gained outside the UK it would be helpful if you can include some background information about how the profession operates in that country and how your role fits within the profession.

List of publications/grey literature

Please list all publications and/or grey literature from at least the last two years. If you wrote or collaborated on a specific section, please indicate the page numbers. If you have a separate list, you can upload this to the online form.

If you do not have any publications, you are still eligible to apply.

Special cases

Please note if you have a specialism and have moved to another area of work, specialism, taken a career break, or recently started your own business you will need to demonstrate the grade applied for across all areas to be granted accreditation. This may mean that you will need to wait until you have gained further knowledge and skills to do this.

Please include any additional information that may be useful for the Validation committee to take into consideration when assessing your application.

A job description or CV can be uploaded to the online form. 

ACIfA applicants should provide a minimum of three examples of work, ideally the best, most complex examples you have co/authored. These should be more recent examples preferably undertaken within the last two years and can be co-authored, please indicate your contribution.

You can upload up to five examples to the online application form (less than 6MB in size). For larger files, please use a file sharing service such as Google Drive or WeTransfer and share this with membership [at] All material will be treated as confidential under the UK Data Protection Act 2018.

Please note CIfA’s official language is English, therefore if your experience has been gained outside the UK, we are not able to translate examples of work for assessment.

Suggestions for suitable examples of work include, but are not limited to:

  • project briefs and specifications
  • HER audits
  • environmental assessments
  • condition surveys, management plans
  • portfolios of graphics-based work
  • survey data
  • finds/environmental strategies or reports
  • post-excavation assessments
  • project designs or funding applications
  • outlines of archaeological or other relevant courses which you have taught
  • fieldwork reports (geophysics, landscape survey, building/survey recording, excavation, evaluation, characterisation)
  • examples of edited work
  • published works or journals
  • presentations you have compiled and delivered, videos of toolbox talks and site meetings that you lead on, where appropriate
  • displays created and the research behind it
  • emails with advice to clients or members of the public

For all upgrade applications we require a Professional Deveopment Plan (PDP) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) log from the last two years that can either be uploaded to the form or tick the box to say you have an online log with us through the CIfA website.

If you are currently a Student or Affiliate member, or have had a recent career break, please provide what you can.

New ACIfA application fee is £20. Upgrade to ACIfA application fee is £10.

Application fees are payable via PayPal or by invoice and can be paid by the applicant or their employer (please check before applying).

Please note this is a non-refundable payment for the administration and assessment of your application and not the annual subscription fees.

Before submitting your application you will be asked to declare that the information you have provided is correct at the time of applying and if you have previously been subject to a professional conduct investigation.

Applicants are encouraged to use the Statement of competence template (Word) template to help their application.

Referees will be sent a CIfA reference template (Word) to complete.