So you want to be an Egyptologist?
Really? Are you sure?
In actuality, almost every time I tell someone I studied Egyptian art and history, or manage to casually point out that I can (with difficulty) read Egyptian hieroglyphs, they tell me something along the lines of, “I loved Egypt when I was a kid!” Many people seem to go through an Egypt-loving phase. With mummies, hundreds of anthropomorphic gods, and fantastic treasures, what’s not to love?
However, if you’re considering Egyptology as a career, be warned—its a difficult field. There are not a lot of excavation jobs available in Egypt, and if you do snag one of those, it will mean long, hot, dirty hours of work. Other options for Egyptologists who would like to stay in their native country include college professor or museum curator. If you aren’t willing to put up with the rigors of excavation work or the training and education it takes to become a professor or curator, consider the option of pursuing another career while keeping your passion as an armchair Egyptologist (like I’ve done).
If you’re 18 or younger and think you might like to study Egyptology in college, do what you can now. Read as many books as you can and consider studying French or German if you are able (since many important scholarly works on Egypt are written in those languages). The University of Memphis Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology discusses what you should start doing here.
For undergraduate studies, if you are not going to attend a college that has an Egyptology program (ones that offer Egyptology programs for Undergrads in the U.S. are rare), consider a related field like archaeology or history. Find some more tips here.
If you are interesting in pursuing an advanced degree (MA or PHD) in Egyptian studies, here is a list of colleges that may currently be offering degrees in Egyptology (these programs change occasionally based on staff availability and funding).
There’s also some very useful information in the FAQ for Egyptology Resources hosted by the Fitzwilliam Museum.
Finally, if you would like an inspiring but down-to-earth viewpoint of Egyptology from a famous Egyptologist-turned-mystery-writer, check out this post by Elizabeth Peters.