Cultural Resource Management Jobs

Whether archaeologists want to admit it or not, archaeology is not just a science, it’s a business.

By federal law, archaeological investigation is a necessary precursor to the development of this country’s infrastructure. It is the business of cultural resource management (CRM) firms to compete against each other to win contracts for this type of work.

All businesses need managers, and CRM firms are no exception. CRM firm managers, also sometimes called senior archaeologists, spearhead the business aspect of archaeology and oversee all projects that their firm is undertaking.


Managing a CRM firm is a complex endeavor. The job requires archaeological expertise, an in-depth understanding of federal laws and regulations regarding cultural resources, and a knack for business.

The success of any business lies in the ability to secure and satisfy clients, while at the same time managing budgets in order to ensure adequate profits. As such, this is perhaps the most central aspect of a CRM firm manager’s job.

Responsibilities to this end often include:

  • Writing and maintaining budgets
  • Writing business proposals and negotiating contracts with prospective clients
  • Collaborating with senior staff on business development and marketing efforts
  • Effectively coordinating with senior staff and clients in managing the financial performance of individual projects
  • Working with a variety of clients, colleagues, and agency representatives

The success of a CRM firm, however, is a two-sided coin. While marketing and budgeting is an extremely important foundation, in the end a CRM firm is only as successful as the work that is done in the field. CRM firm managers are responsible for overseeing that all archaeological projects undertaken by their company are properly organized, researched, and carried out in the most effective and efficient manner possible. In order to ensure the success of the company’s archaeological work, a CRM firm manager is responsible for:

  • Balancing and organizing multiple archaeological projects at the same time
  • Regularly communicating with senior staff and clients to make sure that project needs are being met in a timely manner
  • Developing research designs and monitoring field procedures
  • Overseeing and/or performing all aspects of field research, data analysis, and report production
  • Advising regulatory agencies and clients on archaeological, historical, and environmental issues concerning proposed project areas

Education and Training Requirements

CRM firm managers generally hold a master’s or doctorate degree in anthropology, archaeology, or history. In addition, managers should have an extensive amount of archaeological field experience and generally at least five years of supervisory experience. Business-related education and experience, such as marketing and money management, are also desirable.

The complex nature of this position also requires managers to exhibit a variety of professional and interpersonal skills. Some of these skills include:

  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to successfully manage multiple projects, often under a great deal of pressure from multiple sources (clients, staff, etc.)
  • Ability to take initiative in solving problems
  • Ability and experience in applying state and federal laws and regulations regarding the protection of cultural resources

Salary and Advancement Opportunities

Depending on location, experience, and employer, CRM firm managers earn an average annual salary of approximately $45,000 to $75,000. Some CRM managers might start out at smaller firms and work their way up to larger firms with more projects to oversee and greater responsibility. Others may choose to branch out and start their own cultural resource management businesses.

Employment Outlook

With the recent growth of federal funding for infrastructure development and road construction projects, the need for CRM archaeologists is also expected to increase in order to ensure that laws concerning archaeological and historic site preservation are met. As a result, CRM firm managers can expect business to increase significantly in order to keep up with the nation’s construction proposals.

Online Resources

American Cultural Resources Association
U.S. Cultural Protection Legislation
The National Park Service’s guidelines on Cultural Resource Management

Interested in the management of cultural resources on a global scale? Check out Lord Cultural Resources.

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