Egypt is one of the cradles of human civilization. Its impressive pyramids and fascinating pharaohs have made it one of the most studied areas of the world, and generations of archeologists and other scholars have devoted their entire careers to the study of Egyptian culture and history. These academics, commonly called Egyptologists, are nearly all college-educated professionals, most with one or more graduate degrees.
A bachelor's degree in anthropology, archeology or Egyptian history is the first step in becoming an Egyptologist. A few universities, such as Brown University or the American University in Cairo, offer a bachelor's degree in Egyptology. Besides core courses in archeology and Egyptian history and culture, most programs require students to learn French or German to help read research texts.
A graduate degree is a requirement to work as a modern Egyptologist. Most master's degree programs focus on learning ancient or middle Egyptian and hieroglyphic orthography. Graduate students typically decide on their area focus and historical period specialty in their first couple of years of grad school. Note that some academic institutions offer combination master's/Ph.D. graduate programs in Egyptian studies or Egyptology. You'll probably undertake your first field work as a master's student.
Although you might find entry-level Egyptology-related positions with just a master's degree, most 21st-century Egyptologists interested in pursuing their own research earn a doctorate. Completing a Ph.D. program requires a year or two of additional coursework; you'll also have to write a dissertation based on original research. This typically requires at least a couple of years of archeological or other field work.
Most recent Ph.D. graduate Egyptologists begin their careers with a one- or two-year post-doc fellowship to gain professional experience. Some foundations and academic institutions, such as the American Research Center in Egypt, offer Egyptology-related post-doc fellowships. Certain fellowships employ recipients to teach or work on ongoing projects; others support recipients to conduct their own research. Most employers, such as museums and universities, prefer to hire candidates with at least a couple of years of experience.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.