BAJR Federation Archaeology
Finds People. - Printable Version

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Finds People. - BAJR Host - 29th June 2007

Where are all the people who do the finds??

I can see a few posts, like the Network Ad.

and the wages don't look too bad?

Is the problem in the career or in the training?

Where are you all?

"No job worth doing was ever done on time or under budget.."

Finds People. - gonetopot - 2nd July 2007

The biggest problem is getting people trained though this situation is improving thanks to the recent IFA bursaries and long term campaigning by the Roman, Medieval and Prehistoric ceramics groups along with other finds groups.

The pay is relatively good at a basic level, but I think one problem is that after a certain length of time people wonder where it is leading them or whether they are stuck at that level forever (I don't expect sympathy from the fieldies for this as its not a bad level to be on). One result of this is that once people are established there isn't that much movement from and to other posts and therfore limited opportunities for new converts. Also the free lance market is fairly well catered for these days so less specialists are moving from units into this area.

Unfortunately, as has been discussed before in relation to MOLAS reorganisation, specialists are not always seen as best value for money or integral to an organisation. However on the flip side as many smaller units expand they are retaining and creating more in house specialised posts from ceramics, small finds, bones and environmental so I think the general trend is up.

Finds People. - Oxbeast - 2nd July 2007

This could be good action, though. Network do loads of good sites, and you can actually afford to buy a house on that salary.

Finds People. - Digger - 2nd July 2007

I think the issue is experience and concrete ceilings. I know a few people who have post-grad degrees in finds but can't experience to apply for jobs. Those at the lower scale can't move upwards due to dead mans shoes situation. Some fear advancing people up the pay scale will threaten established finds officers by making finds sections to costly to maintain. All sounds horribly familiar[?]

Finds People. - Melandra - 3rd July 2007

Hi! This is my first post on here and I am particularly interested in this topic being a finds specialist.

I think that yes, experience is certainly a big issue in this area, especially the more specialised you become. A general finds assistant post is pretty straightforward - processing, basic quantification and identification, basic conservation, packaging up the material and ensuring it is all stored correctly until ready for transfer to the appropriate receiving museum. However, progressing to the next level involves becoming aware of many different groups of material and more often than not, developing a particular specialism. This is the bit that takes time and often stalls progression from the assistant to 'specialist' or 'Finds Officer' posts.

I'm afraid that I have to disagree with the 'concrete ceilings' analogy that Digger gives. There are definately the opportunities to progress - you only need to have looked at BAJR over the past couple of months to see that there are jobs around! However, as with virtually all branches of archaeology, in order to move up you often have to move units for these opportunities - a unit can't keep employing more and more specialists if the work isn't there. If you promote one who has progressed beyond an assistant level, then you will have a vacancy that needs to filled there as well and so it goes on - it's just not sustainable in a commercial environment. I think there are probably very few of us on here that haven't had to move for a better oppotunity at least once in our career, whatever branch we have chosen.

Perhaps one of the reasons why 'established' specialists don't move on once they are in a post, is that once you get into a specific specialism, your work often takes on a very regionally based slant, making it difficult to move between areas and remain at the same level of expertise.

In response to the initial question - there is a definate lack of money going into the career. If you look at the profile many of the specialist groups eg. Roman and medieval pottery research groups, you will see that the profession is definately 'top-heavy' with many on the verge of retirement and few younger, new people entering. Many ideas are being put forward in attempt to address this - too detailed to go into here but having sat on a few different committees, I can safely say that specialists are aware of the issue and are attempting to address it.

Anyway, think I've gone on long enough but I just wanted to make a few points in response to some of those made below.

Looking forward to posting again soonBig Grin


Finds People. - BAJR Host - 3rd July 2007

Thanks and welcome...

lots to digest there... and keep posting

"No job worth doing was ever done on time or under budget.."

Finds People. - kevin wooldridge - 4th July 2007

I think that the advertiser must be partly to blame here if they are not getting the response they expected to their ad. Asking for someone who has 2 years experience managing a finds department is probably going to limit the number of applications they receive. Wouldn't they have been better off just to say something along the lines of 'You will have managerial experience' and then sort the wheat from the chaff at the short list or interview stage.

I kinda suspect that job adverts which too obviously narrow the field of potential applicants, normally have a bod in mind and the advert is a bit of a front-up.

Otherwise I am totally in agreement with Melandra

Finds People. - Hal Dalwood - 4th July 2007

My impression is that there have been more finds jobs advertised recently on BAJR than previously. Since my organisation recently advertised finds posts, I can say that was the result of an increased workload. There do seem to be a good range of training opportunities for finds archaeologists too. Inevitably opportunities to progress usually involve moving to new employers in different parts of the UK. I would agree with Melandra's assessment of the current situation.

Hal Dalwood

Finds People. - BAJR Host - 4th July 2007

Hal's assesment and Melandras and ... er most people are right...

Thats why I am pushing for a similar grading (god i hate that word) in specialist peeps similar to field and office staff...

so you can start as a G1 (trainee) move up to G2 (first rung) G3 (have some exp under your belt) G3/4 ( know more and are able to instruct others) G4 (etc........... G7 (managing department or top level specialist - nobody better!) though often that means you aint going to be doing any finds work/illustrating/osteology/enviromental/ etc.......

the same is true for surveyors, buildings analysts/archaeolgists, CAD techs, GIS specialists... we should ALL have the same opportunities

Pathways - to - Success!

"No job worth doing was ever done on time or under budget.."

Finds People. - Digger - 5th July 2007

I agree with Melandra's post as well. Was just looking at it from an internal point of view and also have noticed the recent spate of advertised positions if one is in a position to move. Whil be interesting to see the gradings Mr Hosty.