This apprenticeship standard is in the process of being revised. In the meantime, the version below remains approved for delivery. Further details of this and other occupational standards in revision are available in the revisions status report. 

Overview of the role

Providing support during archaeological investigations, which may comprise surveys, excavations and post-excavation analysis.

Archaeological technician

Reference Number: ST0221

Details of standard

Apprenticeship Standard for Archaeological Technician                           

Level 3 

1. Occupational Profile

Generic Job titles in the field of Archaeological Investigation include: Archaeologist; Site Assistant; Archaeological Fieldwork Technician; Finds Processor; Finds Technician; Finds Assistant; Environmental Processor; Environmental Technician.

Archaeological Technicians provide support to Archaeologists undertaking (usually commercially funded) Archaeological Investigation, which may comprise surveys, excavations and post-excavation analysis. Those working within Archaeological Investigation are responsible for the safe undertaking of surveys, excavations, analyses, publications and archiving, in accordance with industry standards and guidelines including, but not exclusive to, those of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA).

An Archaeological Technician may work on site or in a laboratory. Their work could involve contributing to intrusive and non-intrusive Archaeological Investigation by: assisting with manual excavation of archaeological deposits; assisting with recovery of artefacts and environmental samples; assisting with data gathering tasks and site surveys; undertaking the processing of artefacts and soil samples; washing, labelling, bagging and cataloguing artefacts; processing and sorting environmental samples; data entry; archiving of materials, records and digital data. An Archaeological Technician could work in the private, public or charitable sector, and for organisations of all sizes.

2. Requirements: Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours


The Archaeological Technician will know and understand:

Judgement and Ethics

The limits of their own understanding, abilities and responsibilities, and how to practice within them (K5)

Research and Analyse

The role and purpose of project specific Written Schemes of Investigations (WSIs) and Project or Research Designs (K6)

Sources and types of existing data, including records and collections held at museums, Historic England (HE) the National Monuments Record (NMR), local authority Historic Environment Records (HERs), the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), local and national libraries, the Environment Agency (K7)

The role and purpose of project specific finds and environmental specialist reports and typescript archaeological investigation reports (K4)

The fundamentals of British archaeological practice and chronology, including a broad understanding and recognition of archaeological site types, periods, artefacts and ecofacts (K1)

Maintain Compliance

The fundamentals of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and construction site Health & Safety. For example, this may include gaining a relevant Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) qualification. (K2)

How to recognise and report risks. (K3)

Their Employer’s Health and Safety Policy and Procedures and operational procedures, including risk assessment, technical manuals and recording systems, and how those relate to industry Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) standards, including their Employer’s technical manuals, procedures and guidance for: fieldwork recording, survey, artefact and environmental sample collection and artefact/environmental sample processing and archiving. (K8)

Plan and Prepare for Work (K9)

How their work programme is determined and to whom they report to

How to select the appropriate tools and equipment for the job

How to identify milestones and targets

Carry out work

Archaeological site formation processes and  stratigraphy (analysis of the order and position of layers of archaeological remains) (K10)

How to identify and collect (and protect) appropriate artefacts and environmental samples (K11)

How to adapt procedures and practices to suit different ground/soil/weather conditions, archaeological materials,  logistical and Client requirements (K12)

How to record and store data recovered from archaeological works, including contextual data, plan and digital data, artefactual and ecofactual data in accordance with the manuals, procedures and guidance of the Employer (K13)

Basic short-term artefact protection, stabilisation and storage principles, such as the safe recovery and bagging of fragile artefacts, correct labelling of artefacts and samples, and ensuring appropriate short-term storage and safe/secure transportation (K14)

How to present and report results, including basic use of spreadsheets and databases (K15)

How to prepare themselves appropriately for work in a range of environments and weather conditions (K16)

Identify and respond to customer/client needs (K17)

Where to find, and how to interpret, key project-specific documentation including sampling strategies and research objectives

How to access their Employer’s technical manuals and guidance

How to  maintain honest and constructive colleague relationships

Their role in the context of the project or material on which they are working

Personal/Professional Development (K18)

How to develop a personal action plan for learning and self-development with realistic but challenging objectives

How to select and apply appropriate learning techniques and methods

How to identify personal goals, expectations and priorities


The Archaeological Technician will be able to:

Judgement and Ethics

Apply an awareness of professional judgement and ethical behaviour (S8)

Research and Analyse

Research and assimilate appropriate background information, including that from project specific Written Schemes of Investigation, archaeological archives and reports, aerial photographic collections, LiDAR data, and geophysical and topographic surveys and local and national listings (S1)

Catalogue data recovered from archaeological excavations, including environmental and geological samples, artefacts and ecofacts (S2)

Maintain Compliance (S3)

Maintain their own safety, and that of others, by adhering to all applicable Health and Safety rules, policies and procedures

Recognise and report risks in order to reduce the risk of incidents

Conduct work in line with Employer’s and industry procedures and standards, specifically the CIfA Standards and Guidance for Archaeological Excavation, Watching Brief, Evaluation and Archives

Plan and Prepare for Work (S4)

Establish the requirements upon them for forthcoming projects, including timescales, deadlines, work locations and supervisors

Estimate resources and select appropriate equipment, including hand tools, survey, recording and measuring equipment, and artefact sampling, collection packaging, labelling and processing equipment

Carry out work (S6)

Investigate and understand archaeological sites and heritage assets

Recognise and be able to appropriately package and preserve fragile material evidence of past communities

Compile catalogues and databases of archaeological context records, samples and finds

Contribute to the preparation of archaeological site archives and materials for museum deposition

Carry out work both indoors and outdoors in variable weather conditions, all year round

Identify and respond to customer/client needs (S7)

Identify information required to achieve research objectives, for instance reference to project specific Written Schemes of Investigation for archaeological strategies, and to appropriate published regional, period or subject research agendas

Follow correct procedures to access and use information, including Employer’s technical manuals, GIS systems and databases

Validate/evaluate accuracy of  information, including proof reading of data entry and reports

Categorise and classify data appropriately, including creation of databases and stratigraphic matrices for archaeological excavations

Present and report data using field records in appropriate form for various audiences, including plans, sections, pro-forma context recording sheets and databases

Personal and Professional Development (S5)

Contribute to advances in the body of knowledge and Historic Environment Practice

Commit to continuous improvement and personal development


Archaeological Technicians will be expected to:


Take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work (B1)

Commit to quality and their continuous professional development (B5)

Focus and pay attention to detail (B4)

Work effectively individually and as part of a team  (B2)

Be approachable and able to communicate with all levels of their own and other organisations, as well as the general public (B3)

Be sensitive to and aware of the cultural, historic and spiritual context of objects and structures (B6)

Additional Information


This is a Level 3 Apprenticeship


The duration for this apprenticeship is 12-18 months

Entry Requirements

Whilst any entry requirements will be a matter for individual employers, typically an apprentice might be expected to have already achieved five A* to C GCSEs on entry

Professional registration

Completion of this standard will enable apprentices to register with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) at Practitioner level


Prior to end point assessment there is a requirement to achieve Level 2 in English and Maths. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3, and British Sign Language qualifications are an alternative to English qualifications for those whom this is their primary language. 


This Apprenticeship Standard will be reviewed after 3 years

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Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 3
Reference: ST0221
Version: 1.1
Date updated: 24/08/2022
Approved for delivery: 29 March 2019
Route: Creative and design
Minimum duration to gateway : 12 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £9000
LARS Code: 429
EQA Provider: Ofqual

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Contact us about this apprenticeship

Employers involved in creating the standard: Historic England, Museum of London Archaeology Oxford Archaeology, Cotswold Archaeology, Wessex Archaeology, Arup, National Parks, Albion Archaeology, Warwickshire County Council, Archaeological Services WYAS

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.1 End-point assessment plan revised 24/08/2022 Not set Not set
1.0 Approved for delivery 29/03/2019 23/08/2022 Not set

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