The Work: Tough it out on campus for nine months a year, then morph into Indiana Jones and supervise summertime digs around the world. Or work as a contract archaeologist for a private company or the government, surveying and excavating building sites and federal lands.
Time Outside: 30 percent.
Payback: Academics, $35,000-$100,000; contractors, $60,000.
Prerequisites: A B.A. in archaeology, history, or anthropology for contract work—but you'll need a Ph.D. from a school like the University of Pennsylvania (215-898-7461; www.sas.upenn.edu) for the rest.
Networking: The Society for American Archaeology (202-789-8200; www.saa.org) posts private and academic job openings.
Peon to Pro: 15 years to tenured prof or chief investigator.
Drudge Factor: Think highbrow blue collar: digging with axes.
Outlook: Jobs are scarce in academia, but the National Historic Preservation Act, a law that requires archaeological surveys be conducted on federal lands before ground can be broken for construction, has created a steady market for contract work.