Like most students, I had a hard time deciding on a major in college. I went back and forth, up and down, and all around to find something that was perfect for me. After hitting a dead end I called my dad for advice. He told me, "Find something you are good at and then get someone to pay you to do it." Good advice, right? So if I would have taken his advice I would have chosen a major with a strong science or math background. Instead I interpreted his advice to mean "Find something you love and then get someone to pay you to do it." So, I made a list. I listed out everything that I loved and I came to the conclusion that I should major in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology.
In one of my first Archaeology classes my Professor listed out the cost of being an Archaeologist. That day I learned that if I wanted to get a Bachelors, a Masters, and a PhD in Archaeology then I would most likely be in school for 14 years and I would never pay off my student loans. Bottom line: the money just wasn't there. Did I care?! Hell no! I still wanted it. I still wanted to be an Archaeologist. I think at that point I had the typical "BYU mentality": I would get married and my husband would take care of me. So, why would I need to make money? I could just go out on digs and do the fun archaeology thing and then my husband would take care of everything else. I saw the romantic-Indiana Jones-side of archaeology and I wanted it!
So, I graduated and got a job on an excavation in St George. It was an amazing dig and a lot of fun. I was making $10/hour with no perdiem (they did pay for our food and housing though). Sure it wasn't a lot of money but the experience was amazing!
After that excavation ended I got a typical job in the Cultural Resource Management (CRM) side of archaeology. The work was hard. We worked 10-day-sessions (10 days on and 4 off) in Nevada, my supervisor was a horrible person, we hiked ~13 miles a day, we were stuck in crapy hotels in the middle of nowhere, I was making $13/hour, and I was paying rent at a place in SLC and I was only there 8 days a month. It was then that I realized that archaeology may not have been a great choice. But I kept convincing myself that I just didn't like it because my supervisor was so horrible. Maybe the next job would be better.
The next job I got was similar to the last. I was gone a lot, I was worked into the ground, and the money wasn't great ($16/hour). As a single woman living in Utah it was fine. I could provide for myself and work kept me busy but this wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to be married. I wanted to have a family. I wanted to work and be at home every night. I wanted to go on excavations and adventures. I was sick of hiking. I was so tired. My body was hurting. My knee was busted and my back hurt.
CRM isn't the archaeology that I was wanting/expecting. It's not like my experiences where unique. This is how all CRM firms are. I just didn't know that going into it. I didn't know that I would most likely not be able to get married and have a family if I stayed in this line of work. How am I supposed to have kids when I am gone all the time and hiking all day?! And it's not like I could provide for a family on my salary anyways.
In the end I've realized that the best people for CRM work are single men, who want to stay single, who have another source of income (trust fund baby), and who want to do this because they love it.
I figured that my time as an Archaeologist was coming to an end when I fell in love with Josh. I cried when I had to leave him for a long period of time and I cried when I called home to say hi and I could hear Josh playing with Brodee in the background. It broke my heart. I missed my family. What was the point in having a family if you are never around to see them?
So, if I can give any advice it would be my dad's advice: Find something you are good at and then get someone to pay you to do it. I made what I loved (history and people) my career and then I ended up hated it. AND I was poor. It wasn't worth it. I wish I had known that in college. So, if you know anyone who is considering a career in Anthropology or Archaeology send them my way and I will set them straight.
**The reason I wrote this post was because my friend posted this article from Forbes on Facebook. Check it out. My major is number 1. Eek!