Ask an Archaeologist Day with Nick Hadnutt

21 July marks #AskanArchaeologistDay, so we’ve asked Curator or Archaeology Nick Hadnutt three burning questions.

Why did you become an archaeologist?

I had worked successfully in customer service for a number of years before realising I needed a significant career change. After much head scratching, I completed a career aptitude test (I highly recommend them!) which focussed on identifying the various components within work that interested me. My results suggested I needed a role that was both indoors and outdoors, working in teams and individually, and have an investigative component. Jobs that typified this were a police officer or scientist and neither of these appealed to me, but when I thought more about it, I realised that archaeology included all of those components as well as incorporated my strong interest in human history. I enrolled at the University of Queensland School of Archaeology and never looked back! Archaeologists work in teams, often in the field and investigating archaeological sites. We question what we find and how it relates to the people that once lived at that place. We then spend months writing up the research, often individually in a lab or office and then head back out to fieldwork.

What’s your greatest discovery?  

That, despite all of our scientific discoveries, technological and medical innovations and advanced knowledge of our world, people think, believe and act in essentially the same way as our ancestors for millennia.

What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in pursuing this career path?

Being an archaeologist is a fantastic career. The work is varied, challenging and stimulating. Job opportunities are growing but still limited compared to other professions so be prepared to work hard.  Volunteer as soon as possible and as often as possible on both fieldwork and lab work. This will enable you to understand if you actually enjoy the work (which is often romanticised in movies) as well as build your professional network which is critical in this industry. Having a strong network leads to many more opportunities than going it alone. Be prepared to be the only archaeologist in a room most of the time (except archaeology conferences.) It follows then that you must learn to live with dinosaurs because most people will hear that you are an archaeologist and ask you about dinosaurs… Archaeologists are not palaeontologists!

Do you have a question?

Submit your questions to our Ask an Expert inquiry service or send us a tweet on Twitter @qldmuseum #AskanArchaeologistDay.