Archaeological licensing

All archaeologists who carry out fieldwork in Ontario are required by law to hold a ministry-issued licence to carry out archaeological fieldwork. This archaeological licence is free. It is valid for one to three years, depending on the type of licence. All licensed archaeologists carry a licence card.

As a condition of their licence, licensed archaeologists must file reports with the ministry describing all of their fieldwork. They must also document the archaeological sites they discover or work on by submitting site forms to the ministry.

In addition, consultant archaeologists must follow the 2011 Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists.

To find out more about the responsibilities of a licensed archaeologist refer to Your new archaeological licence: what you need to know: A fact sheet for licensed archaeologists in Ontario.

How to apply for a licence

To apply for an archaeological licence to do land-based archaeology, use Ontario`s Past Portal.

Types of archaeological licences:

Professional licence

Most people who apply are consultant archaeologists, academics, and staff of research organizations. It gives them permission to:

  • Conduct all aspects of archaeological fieldwork, including monitoring, survey, exploration, assessment, and excavation (Stages 1 to 4)
  • Recover artifacts
  • Carry out or supervise archaeological fieldwork as a consultant archaeologist
  • Act as a field director.
  • This licence must be renewed every three years

Requirements

  • Master's degree in an area of archaeology, including completion of a thesis or research project. If you are working toward this degree, you have to finish it before you can use it as a credential.
  • Current membership in an archaeological organization with a code of ethics or code of conduct.
  • A minimum of 260 days (52 weeks) of direct experience conducting all aspects of archaeological fieldwork (Stages 1 to 4); 130 days of these must be in Ontario or geographically and culturally similar jurisdictions. Time spent in the lab does not count toward fieldwork time.
  • A minimum of 130 days (26 weeks) of experience directly supervising archaeological fieldwork.
  • Experience in analyzing archaeological fieldwork data and managing artifacts.
  • Experience on a project that involved working with a stakeholder group (e.g., First Nations, local community) where its interests were considered in the archaeological process.
  • Authoring four substantive documents dealing with primary archaeological research.
  • Two references from archaeologists who have direct knowledge of your fieldwork experience and who hold professional licences or an equivalent qualification.

Applied research licence

Most people who apply are graduate students, field directors working under the supervision of a professional licensed archaeologist, and experienced avocational archaeologists. It allows them to:

  • Monitor, survey, explore, and assess archaeological sites (Stages 1 to 3)
  • Recover artifacts
  • Act as field directors
  • Excavate archaeological sites (Stage 4) in connection with advanced research — provided you are a licensed archaeologist who has held an Avocational licence for a minimum of five years — they do not need to be consecutive.

This licence does not authorize anyone to carry out or supervise fieldwork as a consultant archaeologist.

Requirements

  • A four-year Bachelor's degree in an area of archaeology OR holding an avocational licence for five years. If you are working toward this degree, you have to finish it before you can use it as a credential.
  • Current membership in an archaeological organization with a code of ethics or code of conduct.
  • A minimum of 150 days (30 weeks) of direct experience conducting all aspects of archaeological fieldwork (Stages 1 to 4); 75 days of these must be in Ontario or geographically and culturally similar jurisdictions. Time spent in the lab does not count toward your fieldwork time.
  • Experience in supervising, or assisting in supervising, archaeological fieldwork.
  • Experience in analyzing archaeological fieldwork data and managing artifacts.
  • Authoring one substantive document dealing with primary archaeological research.
  • One reference from an archaeologist who has direct knowledge of your fieldwork experience and who holds a professional licence or equivalent qualifications.

This licence must be renewed every three years.

Avocational licence

It is suitable for anyone who wishes to conduct archaeological fieldwork for personal interest.

People who hold an avocational licence can:

  • Monitor, survey, and explore archaeological sites (Stages 1 and 2)
  • Recover artifacts.

An avocational licence does not authorize anyone to assess or excavate archaeological sites (Stages 3 or 4), carry out or supervise fieldwork as a consultant archaeologist, or act as a field director. New applicants are required to enter into an agreement with a mentor who holds a current Professional or Applied Research licence, or has education and experience determined by the ministry to be equivalent to those of a licensed Professional or Applied Research archaeologist.

Requirements

  • Demonstrated knowledge of archaeological fieldwork acquired through educational experiences and archaeological fieldwork experience, or through prior archaeological research.
  • Current membership in an archaeological organization with a code of ethics or code of conduct.
  • One reference from an archaeologist who holds a professional or applied research licence or equivalent qualifications. This individual must be someone who has supervised or worked with you in the field, who has instructed you in archaeology, or who has agreed to serve as your mentor.
  • For first time applicants: a written agreement with a mentor who holds a current professional or applied research licence, or whose education and experience the ministry considers equivalent.

New applicants receive a one-year licence. At the end of that year, in order for the Avocational licensee to renew their licence, the mentor has to submit a report to the ministry evaluating the licensed archaeologist's knowledge of archaeological fieldwork. Otherwise, this licence must be renewed every three years.

Marine archaeology licence

The marine licensing program is different from the land-based system. Contact the Archaeological Licensing Coordinator for forms.