FAQs about the Register

Below, we offer answers to several frequently asked questions about the Register! You can also find answers to questions about our application process at our Registration FAQ page. If you cannot find an answer to your question here, please visit our contact page to submit your inquiry!

Are you an active registrant? Renew your registration by clicking here.

Why does the Register of Professional Archaeologists exist?

The Register was established on the premise that archaeology is a profession, and as such should adhere to a set of ethics and professional standards. The privilege of professional practice requires professional morality, responsibility, and competence on the part of each practitioner. Therefore, the Register seeks the establishment and acceptance of universal professional standards in archaeology.


If you are a professional archaeologist and agree with our goals, please read our Code of Ethics and Standards of Research Performance and consider registering to become an RPA.

How long has the Register been around?

The Register of Professional Archaeologists has existed since 1998.  Recognizing the pervasive importance of and need for such standards, the Register was created by a joint task force that consisted of the Society of Professional Archaeologists (SOPA), Society for American Archaeology (SAA), Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Through a vote of its board and membership, SOPA transferred its responsibility, authority, and assets to the newly formed Register and ceased to exist as a professional society.

How long does it take for review and approval of an application?

Between four and eight weeks, depending on the registrar’s current field work activity. If your application is approved, you will receive an email confirming your registration and a registration certificate and welcome packet in the mail. Once you’ve joined the Register, you are encouraged to place RPA and your registrant ID number after your name.

Is there an annual fee for registration?

Yes. If you are a member of one of the Register’s sponsoring organizations, the annual fee for registration is $55. The Register’s sponsoring organizations are the Society for American Archaeology, the Society for Historical Archaeology, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the American Anthropological Association. If you are not affiliated with a sponsoring organization, the annual fee goes up $135.

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.

How many RPAs are there?

The Register continues to grow each year. As of the beginning of 2018, there were more than 3,200 Registered Professional Archaeologists (RPAs).

What are the qualifications for registration?

Archaeologists with an advanced degree, documentation of significant research experience (e.g. A Master’s thesis, Doctoral dissertation, or equivalent research study), and documentation of professional experience are qualified to join the Register.


For archaeologists who graduated from a thesis/dissertation program, you must meet ALL of the following criteria:


  1. An advanced degree with a specialization in archaeology
  2. A completed archaeological study that has been reported in the form of a Master’s thesis or Doctoral dissertation
  3. Documentation of professional experience


For archaeologists who graduated from a non-thesis program, you may still qualify if you meet ALL of the following criteria:


  1. An advanced degree with a specialization in archaeology
  2. A research study, or series of studies, equivalent to a Master’s thesis or Doctoral dissertation
  3. Supervisory research experience
  4. Detailed documentation of excavation, survey and laboratory experience


For all applicants, you are also required to formally accept the Register’s Code of Conduct, Standards of Research Performance, and Grievance Procedures.

How much does it cost to apply for registration?

There is a $35 non-refundable application fee, but it is waived if you have graduated with an advanced degree within the last 6 months before the date of your application.


Visit us at the RPA table to ask about discount offers at meetings and conferences!

Who can bring a complaint against an RPA?

Anyone is able to consult our grievance procedure and bring a complaint against an RPA. This includes RPAs, non-registered archaeologists, and members of other professions and the public.

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.

Is the Register just for CRM archaeologists?

No, the Register is for all archaeologists who meet the registration requirements. A diverse body of Registrants from CRM, academia, government, and other related professions is very important. As of 2017, over 320 college and university archaeology and 150 federal government archaeologists are current registered. That’s about 18% of RPAs. We encourage all professional archaeologists who agree with our Code of Ethics and Standards of Research Performance to register.

How can I get in touch with the Register?

Please email info@rpanet.org or call (410) 932-8100 with any questions.


Register of Professional Archaeologists

3601 East Joppa Road

Baltimore, MD 21234

Phone: (410) 931-8100

Fax: (410) 931-8111

Email: info@rpanet.org

Website: www.rpanet.org

Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT.