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What is the Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) Category?

Registered Professional Archaeologists have demonstrated advanced knowledge, academics, experience, and professionalism in Archaeology. The Register makes meticulous assessments of theses, dissertations, and field reports for scientific rigor and ethical praxis with every Registrant application. This process may take some time, as these documents can be extensive, and appreciate patience during the application process. 

What is the Registered Archaeologist (RA) Category?

The Register recognizes that not all career archaeologists have obtained an advanced degree (MA or PhD) in archaeology, anthropology or a closely related field, and instead have terminated their education at the BA level. Archaeologists practicing full-time in our profession should have the opportunity to register and to demonstrate to employers, clients, and the broader profession that they adhere to the Code of Conduct and Standards for Research Performance, whether or not they have an advanced degree. The Registered Archaeologist (RA) Category is designed to make our professional standards inclusive of those who meet the requirements for registration, but who have not completed an advanced degree.

How is a Registered Archaeologist (RA) different from a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA)?

The new RA category is for archaeologists who are dedicated to a professional career in archaeology and do not have an advanced degree. RAs must follow the Register’s Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance and are bound by the RPA’s Grievance Procedure.

Degree Advanced, such as MA, MS, PhD BA
Major Archaeology, Anthropology, Classics, or another germane discipline with a specialization in archaeology from an accredited institution same
Experience None (unless no thesis or non-qualifying thesis - see below) 2 years' supervised within the archaeological field, such as employment, internship, laboratory work, fieldwork. Field school does not meet this qualification
Report Thesis or dissertation or equivalent documents. Must include substantive data analysis by the applicant directed towards an explicit archaeological research problem. If no thesis was required for the advanced degree or the thesis research problem focus and substantiative data analysis must submit: 1) Section IV of application with detailed documentation of 52 weeks of excavation, survey, lab experience, including 20 weeks supervisory research experience; 2) up to 2 project reports that demonstrate research problem focus and data analysis equivalent to a thesis or dissertation. Thesis or equivalent document reporting on professional archaeological investigations. Must include descriptive analysis.
Sponsor Required no yes

Who qualifies to be an RA?

Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in Archaeology, Anthropology, or a closely related field, along with at least two years (24 months) of full-time professional experience. Applicants with an advanced degree who qualify to become an RPA may not apply to become a RA.

Are there any changes to being an RPA now that there are RAs?

There are no changes to RPA as a result of the new registration category. The Register encourages current RPA registrants join us in welcoming new RAs and supporting their commitment to abide by the Code and Standards and raise the professional profile of our discipline.

Once an RPA or RA, what does this mean for professional recognition? Can I put "RPA" or "RA" after my name?

Once your application is approved, you may begin referring to yourself as a “Registered Professional Archaeologist” or “Registered Archaeologist” and use the postnominal “RPA” or “RA” after your name on business cards, email signatures, CVs, etc. However, if your registration lapses at any time, you must immediately cease presenting yourself as or using the title “Registered Professional Archaeologist” or “Registered Archaeologist” or “RPA” or “RA.”

What is the Student/Early Career Category?

The Student/Early category is for those currently enrolled or graduated with a B.A., B.S., A.A., A.S., or equivalent in the past 2 years with a declared Major in Anthropology, Classics, or another germane discipline with a specialization in archaeology from an accredited institution. You will be required to provide an unofficial transcript as proof of enrollment dates and the recommendation of an active Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) in good standing.  Student/Early Career applicants are required to get the recommendation from an active RPA Registrant in good standing. 

Are there any changes to being an RPA or RA with the addition of the Student/Early Career category?

No. This category is designed to extend the Register's support and provide low to no cost professional development while creating increased opportunities for broader networking, mentoring, and career assistance to student/early career archaeologists. 

Once I am accepted as Student/Early Career Registrant, can I use the letters RA or RPA after my name professionally?

No, however we do encourage Student/Early Career Registrants to include their registrations on Resumes and CVs to express this voluntary commitment to ethical and professional excellence. 


Is there an application fee?

Yes, there is a non-refundable application fee of $55. This fee is waived for applicants who have received their degree within the six (6) months prior to application submission.

What are the annual dues?

Annual dues vary based on registrant category and affiliated status (in USD):

RPA Annual Registration Fees

    • "Founding": Members of one or more of The Register’s founding organizations (AAA, AIA, SAA, or SHA) ... $75.00
    • "Affiliated": Members of one or more of The Register’s Affiliated Societies who are NOT affiliated with one of the four founding organizations (AAA, AIA, SAA, or SHA) ... $95.00
    • "Unaffiliated": Applicants who are NOT members of any of the founding  organizations or Affiliated Societies ... $135.00

RA Annual Registration Fees

    • "Founding": Members of one or more of The Register’s founding organizations (AAA, AIA, SAA, or SHA) ... $50.00
    • "Affiliated": Members of one or more of The Register’s Affiliated Societies (regional professional societies such as SCA, COSCAPA, BCPA, etc.) who are NOT affiliated with one of the four founding organizations (AAA, AIA, SAA, or SHA) ... $65.00
    • "Unaffiliated: Applicants who are NOT members of any of the founding organizations or Affiliated Societies ... $99.00
Retiree Annual Registration Fees
    • Registrants which are no longer actively working professionals, regardless of affiliation or sponsored membership ... $20.00

Student/Early Career Registration Fees

    • Registrants which are currently enrolled or within 2 years of graduation with a B.A., B.S., A.A., A.S., or equivalent ... $25.00*
*No Application Fee

When will I know if my application has been approved?

Upon approval, you will receive an email containing your login credentials and Registration Number, followed by a welcome packet and your certificate via mail. Please note: certificates are mailed directly from the printer, so these items may arrive at different times.

Why does the Register need an official transcript from me?

The Registrar evaluates your official transcript as part of your application package in order to view your coursework in archaeology and to confirm conferral of degree(s). This requirement cannot be waived, and an unofficial transcript cannot be accepted.

I have a BA in archaeology or a related field and several years (or decades) of experience conducting archaeological fieldwork. Do I qualify to register as an RPA?

No, however you do qualify to apply as a Registered Archaeologist (RA). The Registered Archaeologist certification is designed for those who are dedicated to a professional career as an archaeologist but who have not, or not yet, received a master’s degree. 

If I receive my degree in archaeology or a related field outside of the United States, do I still qualify to register as an RPA/RA?

Yes, as long as the degree is from an accredited institution, it should meet the Register’s requirements. However, the Register's criteria for RPA coursework and thesis closely align with the NPS/SOI professional qualification standards for archaeologists in the U.S. If your degree program did not include coursework or if your thesis is not of similar length and complexity to typical master's programs in the U.S., you may be asked to provide additional information.

I attended an Advanced Degree with No Thesis or Non-Qualifying Thesis program for my degree or have an advanced degree in an unrelated field. Can I still apply to register as an RPA/RA?

Yes, as long as you have designed and executed a study that includes a substantive data analysis that addresses an explicit archaeological research problem you likely qualify to register as an RPA, and as long as you have co-authored professional reports you likely qualify to register as an RA. RPA applicants without a qualifying thesis must complete the "long form" version of the application: Section IV to document at least 52 weeks of excavation, survey, and laboratory experience, including at least 20 weeks of supervisory research experience.  Applicants with an advanced degree in a related field may be asked to provide additional evidence of coursework in archaeology/anthropology, such as at the undergraduate level.

Do well-established professional archaeologists with an advanced graduate degree and many years of experience, such as faculty or CRM archaeologists, need to submit an official transcript, and documentation of an archaeological study?

Yes. These documents are required of all applicants.

I no longer have access to my thesis or dissertation, but have published the work in other forms such as a journal article or book. May I submit these publications in lieu of direct documentation of the thesis or dissertation?

Yes, a peer-reviewed journal article, book chapter, or book is acceptable, but the Register prefers thesis documentation if you are applying using the short form of the application (Sections I, II, and III). Most University libraries have now digitized all early theses and dissertations and make them available as a PDF. If your thesis is truly unavailable, please apply using the long application form (Sections I, II, III, and IV) using the published version as your report submitted in lieu of a thesis. Contact with more technical questions about application materials.

I would like to register as an RPA, but the requirement for my Masters or Ph.D was the production of a series of publishable papers instead of a thesis or dissertation. Am I still eligible to use the short application form?

Yes, as long as the documentation provided demonstrates that the publishable papers were accepted to satisfy degree requirements. Contact with more technical questions about application materials.

Does a report on a survey, inventory, or testing project satisfy the requirement in Section 3 of the RPA application?

Most survey, inventory, and testing reports are descriptive summaries of methods and findings tailored to support regulatory compliance. Such reports do not meet registration requirements because they are not directed toward an explicit archaeological research problem, do not include a substantive data analysis, or are not designed, executed, and authored exclusively by the applicant.

However, if you have designed and executed a regulatory compliance study that includes a substantive data analysis directed to addressing an explicit archaeological research problem and have authored a report on that study then that report should suffice. The documentation provided must demonstrate that you conducted and reported on the data analysis. You will also need to document a minimum of 52 weeks of field and laboratory experience (Section 4 of the application). Contact with more technical questions about application materials.

What counts towards the two years of professional experience for an RA? Why doesn’t a field school count?

Two years of supervised experience can include employment, internships, laboratory work, or fieldwork. The RA applicant, for example, might be working as a paid archaeologist, or might be an undergraduate student volunteering in their university archaeology lab, or might be an early career graduate student overseeing field school students. Not counted towards the two-year requirement are any courses, including field school, taken for credit towards the applicant’s degree.

What if I haven’t written a BA/BS thesis? What other types of reports are acceptable?

Not all university programs offer a thesis option at the bachelor’s level, and some MA programs also have Advanced Degrees with No Thesis or Non-Qualifying Thesis options. However, the Register requires evidence that an RA has done research-based written work in the field of archaeology, either during their undergraduate studies or in their two years of work experience. Ideally, the applicant will demonstrate an ability to pose and answer an archaeological research question through a thesis, senior paper, or capstone project, but authorship of field reports, in whole or in part (e.g., a technical section, background context research), is also acceptable. Contact with more technical questions about application materials.

How do I find an RPA to sponsor my RA application?

As an RA applicant, you will likely find that you already know an RPA who is familiar with your work experience and ethical commitment. You can reach out to your professional network, and/or use the RPA look-up tool to confirm that your sponsor is an active registrant in the RPA Directory.

Someone asked me to sponsor them to be an RA. What does this mean?

To qualify as a sponsor for an RA application, you must be a current RPA registrant in good standing. By sponsoring the applicant, you confirm that you are familiar with the applicant’s work history, the quality of their work, and their commitment to ethical professional practice. You should not agree to sponsor an application for someone you do not know and with whose work you are unfamiliar. Beyond the initial sponsorship, there are no ongoing commitments by agreeing to be an RPA sponsor, and the RA is a fully independent member of the RPA.

If my original application is rejected, and I later re-apply after additional experience and report writing, do I have to re-submit the application fee a second time?

Yes. The application fees cover expenses incurred when processing the applications and each application must be accompanied by the fee, unless you are applying within six months of receiving your advanced degree. The Register has the same administrative expenses associated with each application.

My original application was submitted as the shortened version, but I was told I should resubmit it using the longer version to further document my work and research experience. Do I have to resubmit the application fee a second time when I submit the longer version of the application?

Yes. The application fees cover expenses incurred when processing the applications and each application must be accompanied by the fee, unless you are applying within six months of receiving your advanced degree. The Register has the same administrative expenses associated with each application.

Do you accept applications from non-US citizens?

Yes, we accept applications regardless of citizenship or national origin. Please note that we may require additional information: 

  • Applicants whose degrees are not from the United States may be asked to provide a certified translation and/or a foreign degree/credential equivalency report.
  • Applicants whose thesis document is not in English may be asked to submit a translation.
  • Applicants whose graduate programs did not require coursework may be asked to submit additional transcripts.


How do I log in?

Click the "icon" that looks like a head at the top-right of any website page. You will also be presented with a login screen if you try to access any members-only section of our website.

If you cannot recall your password created when submitting your application, click the "Forgot password" link on the login form or contact The Register’s Business Office.

How can I get a replacement certificate?

To get a replacement certificate, pin, or scale card, please complete this form.

There is a fee of $45 for a replacement certificate, $35 for a replacement pin, and $5 for 5 scale cards.

How do I update my profile?

Once logged in, you can make changes to your personal information by clicking the “Edit” button under the “My Profile” tab.

I'm an RA who now meets the guidelines for RPA status. How should I apply? 

If you are an RA and would like to become RPA, you should follow the instructions for applying for RPA. The application fee is waived for RAs in good standing. RPA-level dues will be assessed at the next renewal period.

I am an RA that also qualifies for the Student/Early Career category, what do I do?

Reach out to our Executive Director with an unofficial transcript that shows your enrollment dates and the Register will make special case by case arrangements.


How do I renew?

If your renewal lapsed prior to 10/15/2020, please email us to request that your membership be reinstated in our new software platform.  We will add your membership and create an invoice for you to pay.  For a picture tutorial of the renewal process, click here.

Is there a lapsed dues policy?

Yes, lapsed registrants are granted a one-year grace period and are responsible for only paying the current year’s renewal fees to become current for the remainder of the calendar year. Registrants who have been lapsed longer than one year will also be required to pay the current year's dues to return to active status. If you are a lapsed registrant, please contact Executive Director Michael O'Toole ( for assistance with your renewal.

UPDATE: Due to the economic hardship caused by recent public health emergencies, the usual policy has been temporarily suspended, allowing lapsed registrants to return to active status by just paying the current year's dues (January 2021).

Does the lapsed dues policy apply to me even though I haven't been in the industry in years?

Yes, please see the details for the "lapsed dues policy" above.

I was previously registered as an RPA/RA but let my registration lapse. I would like to be reinstated. Do I need to reapply and go through the review process?

No. Once you are approved for registration, you have demonstrated you commitment to the goals of the Register. If you wish to become an active registrant again, all you need to do is notify the Executive Director of your desire and submit your yearly dues.  It would help if you could also submit a copy of your registration certificate with the registration number. Please see our Renew My Registration page for more information. 


I have changed my last name since receiving my degree. Do I need to provide additional documents to prove that the degree is mine?

Submit your application using your first name, previous surname, and current surname. With the additional information required on the application (resume, work experience, etc.), it should be obvious you are the same person. If registration is approved, then the certificate could be issued under your current name or a combination of both.

Can qualified professional archaeologists from outside of the United States apply to register as an RPA/RA?

Yes! As long as you meet all of the qualifications for registration (see How to Apply), you may apply for registration as an RPA/RA. See additional information under Registration Process above.

How does the grievance process work?

First, the Register’s Grievance Coordinator (an elected position held for two years by an RPA) receives any grievance complaints, which are alleged violations of the Register’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Research Performance. If the Coordinator finds that the complaint has merit, a Grievance Committee is appointed to investigate the matter. Based on their findings, the Committee may then file a formal complaint to the Register’s Standards Board. The Board holds a hearing and makes a decision that can include up to four types of disciplinary action. See our Grievance Procedure for further information.

Are RAs subject to the Register's Grievance Process?

Yes – The Register has a grievance process to enforce our Code and Standards. The process is also intended to protect registrants who follow the Code and Standards from potentially damaging, frivolous, or irrelevant claims of misconduct. The grievance process is a way to keep archaeologists accountable for doing work they are qualified to do in an ethical manner. Agreeing to abide by the Code and Standards demonstrates to employers and clients that you hold yourself to a high ethical standard.

What if someone files a grievance against me?

Anyone can file a grievance against a registrant for a violation of the Code and Standards, including your peers, staff, employer, tribal members, or anyone else. It is important that you always conduct yourself and your work in an ethical manner. If a grievance is filed against you, the Grievance Coordinator will review the claim and investigate whether there is cause to move the grievance forward. For more information, review the RPA Grievance Procedure.

What counts as "Continuing Professional Development?"

Many activities that archaeologists are already engaged in will count towards the continuing professional development hours required for all RAs and RPAs, including but not limited to: attending a public talk, presenting at a conference, listening to a webinar, engaging in public outreach, publishing academic or popular science articles, taking a Register-certified Continuing Professional Education Course, auditing or enrolling in college seminars, and more. The goal of this requirement is to ensure that Register archaeologists are active and engaged in their field.

Will both RPAs and RAs be expected to participate in Continuing Professional Development?

Yes. both RPAs and RAs will need to demonstrate a consistent commitment to continuing professional development and document their activities annually beginning in 2021.

How will professional development hours be logged?

Beginning in 2021, RAs and RPAs will be able to self-report their professional development hours through the RPANet web portal.

I read the RPA Code of Conduct, and Standards of Research Performance. I am not in charge of many of the requirements for the Standards of Research Performance - does this mean I’m responsible when anything on a project I work on goes wrong?

There are many levels of responsibility on any archaeological project. Principal Investigators and Project Directors have the greatest responsibility and oversight for a project, but all members of a project- field technicians, field supervisors, crew chiefs, teaching assistants, or laboratory staff can and should conduct themselves in a way that is not counter to the Code and Standards.

Can someone be expelled from The Register?

Yes. This happens when the Register’s Standards Board determines that the Register’s Code of Ethics or Standards of Research Performance have been seriously violated.


For questions regarding registration, please contact the Registrar at

For questions regarding billing, please contact the help desk at

Register of Professional Archaeologists
411 East Northfield Drive, Box 9
Brownsburg, IN  46112

Phone: (317) 798-3001

Grievance Hotline: (410) 246-2150

You do not have to be an RPA/RA to file a Grievance


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