Practitioner (PCIfA)

Practitioner (PCIfA) accreditation is open to those who:

  • have a good working knowledge within an area of historic environment practice
  • have some responsibility for undertaking work using own judgement
  • have carried out some complex work under general supervision
  • perceive the importance of each role within a team
  • demonstrate understanding of the ethical requirements of the Code of conduct and is able to apply to own work
  • uphold the values of the Institute to work in the public interest
  • 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 PCIfA, please see our Professional pathways webpage.

How to apply

To apply at PCIfA, 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 in the competence matrix (see below). You can also include qualifications, a list of projects/publications/grey literature and examples of work, but these are not required if you do not have any. 

Since April 2022 new requirements have been added to the application criteria requiring applicants to demonstrate that they understand and work in accordance with the Code of conduct and relevant CIfA Standards. At PCIfA you will need to provide information about this in your statement of competence. This means you may need to undertake some training in ethical competence before you apply to be able to demonstrate the perception of professional context part of the competence matrix. See Further guidance section below.

Application deadline dates can be found here under the apply online buttons. 

If you have recently graduated with a CIfA accredited degree you need to apply in the same way using the accredited degree matrix and guidance.

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).


Please read the information in the sections below carefully before applying. Please refer to the FAQ page for further details. 

Personal details

Please provide your name, job title, post nominals where relevant, and contact details in the online form.


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 pre-written references to the online form, which will speed up the process. Referees should complete the CIfA reference template (see templates section, below).

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

PCIfA applicants should

  • use their current or most recent employer, ensuring they can comment on your archaeological work
  • provide a second referee who is aware of your knowledge and skills within the historic environment sector  - e.g. a current or former supervisor. If you have only worked in one organisation you can provide two referees from the same workplace or one from a degree course within two years. They should not be related to you or a client as this is considered a conflict of interest.


  • 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 that 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 within two weeks of submitting your application.

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.

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.

PCIfA applicants must provide a statement outlining their employed or voluntary roles and say how their current role demonstrates the four areas of the competence matrix, see below. It is the most important part of your application as it informs the Validation committee about how your skills and experience demonstrate the criteria and helps them reach a decision.

You can use the Statement of competence template to upload or write directly into the boxes in the online form. Please note that incomplete new applications online cannot be saved and returned to.

For further information on how the competence categories apply in different areas of practice, please see our supporting specialist competence matrices. These can be used alongside the main competence matrix to see how your work fits into the criteria and help write your statement of competence.

If you have recently graduated with a CIfA accredited degree you need to apply in the same way and write your statement using the accredited degree matrix and guidance.

Employed or voluntary roles

Please give detailed information about your role and responsibilities for your current and most recent roles over the last two years. Use each heading of the competence matrix (below) as a guide. You should cover how you demonstrate the four areas - knowledge, autonomy, coping with complexity and perception of professional context - giving specific examples. You may find it easier to describe an example of a project you have done from beginning to end.

For any roles you’ve undertaken longer than two years ago, please give a brief description of the responsibilities held, including any career breaks where relevant.

If you have taken a career break, work part-time or have a portfolio career and can meet the evidence requirements to demonstrate competence in the four areas of the matrix, you are eligble to apply.

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

Detailed guidance and examples of what you should include can be found in the performance criteria (PCIfA) (weblink)

Competence matrix for Practitioner (PCIfA)



Coping with complexity

Perception of professional context

Good working knowledge of key aspects relevant to area of historic environment practice, and competence in its application, in accordance with relevant professional standards

Some responsibility for achieving tasks using own judgement and autonomy, whilst working under general supervision. Collaboration with others is expected

Appreciates complex situations within the role held and able to achieve partial resolution alone. Some activities are complex and non-routine

Sees actions as a series of steps and recognises the importance of each role in the team

Demonstrates understanding of the ethical requirements of the Code of conduct and is able to apply to own work. Upholds the values of the Institute to work in the public interest


Qualifications (where relevant)

Please list any relevant qualifications, including 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.

Additional relevant information

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 but you must include a statement of competence (above).

If your experience has been gained outside the UK, please include some background information about how the profession operates in that country and how your role fits within the profession.

List of projects/publications/grey literature (where relevant)

Please list any relevant projects, publications or grey literature from your work in the last 2 years in the statement template or online form. Where work is co-authored or the authors not defined, please indicate which part(s) you were responsible for.

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

PCIfA applicants do not need to provide any examples of work, but we encourage you to do so where possible. These should be recent examples that support your statement, preferably undertaken over the last two years. 

You can upload up to five examples to the online application form (less than 6MB in size) or email them using a file sharing system (We Transfer or Google Docs) to membership [at] All material will be treated as confidential under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

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

  • skills passport (eg BAJR or Oxford Archaeology)
  • project briefs and specifications
  • HER audits
  • environmental assessments
  • portfolios of graphics-based work
  • survey data
  • finds/environmental strategies or reports
  • post-excavation assessments
  • fieldwork reports (geophysics, landscape survey, building/survey recording, excavation, evaluation, characterisation)
  • published works or journals
  • presentations you have compiled and delivered
  • displays created and the research behind it

If you are unsure what to provide, please get in touch at membership [at]

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.

You can provide your companies' templates or you can use the CIfA templates found here.

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

New PCIfA application fee is £15. Upgrade to PCIfA application fee is £10.

Application fees are payable via ClearAccept (replaced 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 been subject to a professional conduct investigation.

If you pay through ClearAccept (replaced PayPal) you will not receive confirmation of your submission, we will contact you within a week to confirm.

Ethics useful links

Application useful links

Frequently Asked Questions

Applicants are encouraged to use the Statement of competence template (Word) template to apply.

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