Archaeological licensing

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

Licensed archaeologists must abide by the Terms and Conditions for Archaeological Licences. In addition, consultant archaeologists must follow the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists.

Fact Sheets

The ministry has created the following licensing-related fact sheets. They provide useful information and tips to help licensed archaeologists understand their responsibilities as a licence holder and renew their licence when it expires.

  • Licence Renewal
    This fact sheet provides a general description of what happens when you apply to renew your archaeological licence. Knowing what happens when the ministry considers your renewal application will help you prepare for the renewal process. This fact sheet also answers frequently asked questions about the renewal process and provides you with useful tips and contact information.
  • Inspections
    This fact sheet provides a general description of what licensed archaeologists can expect from a ministry inspection of their archaeological fieldwork, laboratory, collection storage facility or business premises. This fact sheet also includes frequently asked questions about the inspection process and provides useful tips and contact information.

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

This licence allows the holder 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
  • Act as a consultant archaeologist
  • Act as a field director

Most people who apply for a professional licence are academics, staff of research organizations, and those who want to act as archaeological consultants.

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

This licence allows the holder to:

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

This licence does not authorize anyone to carry out or supervise fieldwork as a consultant archaeologist.
Most people who apply for an applied research licence are graduate students, experienced avocational archaeologists, and those who want to act as field directors working under the supervision of a consultant archaeologist who holds a professional licence.

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.

Avocational licence

This licence is suitable for anyone who wants to conduct archaeological fieldwork for personal interest.
This licence allows the holder to:

  • 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. Email us at archaeology@ontario.ca for more information and licence application forms.

Contact

For more information contact:

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
Archaeology Programs Unit
416-212-8886
Email: Archaeology@ontario.ca