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ACRA Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions:

Questions about the industry in general:

Questions about how ACRA operates:

General Questions

What are the different levels of membership with ACRA?


Voting membership in ACRA is open to for-profit or not-for-profit businesses that provide cultural resource management services.  Associate, nonvoting membership is open to institutions of higher education and government agencies. Students may join ACRA as nonvoting members if they are currently enrolled at a college or university in a field of study associated with cultural resource management.  Information on your company size will be made available to other ACRA members and will be the basis by which you choose your board representatives if you are a voting member. Below is a table that breaks down ACRA's member types:


 Member Type

Income (based on three-year gross average)
Annual Dues
 Small, 1st Category

 Less than $99,999
 Small, 2nd Category

 $100,000 - $199,999
 Small, 3rd Category

 $200,000 - $399,999
 Medium, 1st Category

 $400,000 - $799,999
 Medium, 2nd Category

 $800,000 - $1,499,999
 Large, 1st Category

 $1.5 million - $4,999,999
 Large, 2nd Category

 Over $4.5 million

 Student    $25

What's the difference between ACRA and the ACRA-L e-mail list?


ACRA, the American Cultural Resources Association is a trade association made up of dues paying corporate members and associate members. ACRA-l is a public forum to discuss cultural resource management issues, and is provided by ACRA to the CRM community at large as a public service. ACRA-L is free and open to anyone willing to abide by its simple rules of etiquette.

What is the MembersOnly e-mail list?


MembersOnly is, as its name implies, a mailing list only for corporate members of ACRA. It is a place where members can discuss issues and help each other in a setting where people will feel more at ease and be more willing to open up. Subscription is private and a user ID and password are required to examine its archives.

How do I subscribe/unsubscribe/get ACRA-L?


To subscribe, unsubscribe, get the digest and other forum functions, please click here and follow the instructions.

What has ACRA done for me, lately?


Marketing Initiatives


Marketing your firm to clients via our website and by linking our website to other trade organizations whose members may need cultural resource services. Developing a display for cultural resource conferences and for client based conferences and conventions.


Consultants Web Page


ACRA has developed a section of its website that lists individual companies and branches by discipline and by geographic region. We are marketing this part of our site to potential clients and client organizations as a place to find experienced and professional cultural resource consultants across the country.


ACRA Training

  • Conducting ACRA OSHA training course.
  • Conducting ACRA Contracting workshop training course.
  • Conducting ACRA Online Learning Opportunities geared toward managers and employees.
  • Exploring the idea of working with universities to set up adult training courses, internships directed toward the needs of cultural resources consulting firms.

Government Relations

  • Retains Washington, D.C. based government affairs consultant, Cultural Heritage Partners, LLC, to monitor and advocate for the industry's interest with Congress and federal agencies 
  • Dealing with Army Environmental Center on the PAA 99 issue through our lawyer.
  • Initiating discussions with federal agencies about contracting and quality control issues.
  • Working with the Department of the Interior to improve the practice of archaeology.

Getting Info out to Members and Non-Members

  • Sending ACRA's newsletter, ACRA-Edition, to members as pdf files via e-mail.
  • Establishing the MembersOnly e-mail forum.
  • Publishing this FAQ page on our website.
  • Establishing a password protected section of our web site just for corporate members.
  • Continuing to host the ACRA-l forum which currently has over 1200 members from all sectors of CRM.

Why should my company join ACRA?


The following are random quotations from member firms when they were recently asked what they would tell prospective members about joining ACRA:


"For those of us in small companies ACRA is the best avenue to date for us to keep up on what's going on at many levels. ACRA and the information it provides really does give meaning to the old saying 'knowledge is power.' Another way I like to look at it is I may be somewhat isolated working in a small shop, but thanks to ACRA, isolation does not have to mean insulation from what's going on in CRM."

"1. A problem shared is a problem diminished: ACRA is a forum in which we can learn solutions to our common CRM and business problems

2. ACRA is engendering a professional and business ethic among its members and membership will soon come to indicate a company's standing in the CRM community. Don't be marginalized, join today."

"ACRA can provide the forum for discussing items of mutual interest which should lead toward actions of mutual benefit. That is my primary reason for joining."

"I helped to found, joined, and have served ACRA for many reasons. Of these and at the most basic level, no other organization in the country serves the CRM industry exclusively. As an organization of businesses, not individuals, ACRA (with all of its warts and pimples) seeks to raise the bar of professionalism in a confusing and undisciplined array of outlaws, rouges, and legitimate business enterprises. We attempt to lead by example, not by any vested authority or police power. I think that ACRA can make perhaps its most substantive and long-lasting contribution in the industry by working with other related groups to promote a national system of licensing that includes requirements for continuing education credits."

"Although we share common interests with a number of other organizations, there is no organization that specifically represents, and is a voice for, the interest of professionals involved in cultural resources investigations within the contractual compliance framework."

"At the conclusion of an audit by our biggest client this week -- a large corporation for which several ACRA members throughout the country have contracts -- the auditor expressed her dismay that there wasn't more consistency among cultural resource consulting firms. She proceeded to tell some "horror stories" regarding firms who have caused her a number of problems as a result of poor business practices, ranging from shoddy record-keeping to disreputable treatment of the client. I told her that Alpine was a member of the American Cultural Resources Association, and that one of ACRA's goals was to promote responsible and ethical business practices.
That was ALL she needed to hear! She wrote down ACRA's name, and expressed her desire to limit her company's contracting to ACRA member firms. She plans to present this concept to her corporation leadership. I gave her ACRA's website address. A good reason to belong to ACRA? -- you bet!"

Questions about the industry in general

Where can I get information about salaries in private sector CR consulting?


Please visit the Salary Survey Page

How many people are employed in private sector CR consulting?


The average number of employees in ACRA member firms is 17. ACRA has over 120 corporate members representing most of the medium to large-sized firms nationally, and many of the smaller firms. Assuming that there are another 200-300 firms (mostly individual consultants) that are not members, we estimate the total number of CRM staff in the private sector to be over 6,000 people.

What is the break down of the various disciplines in private sector CR consulting firms?




% of Employees

Historians 9<
Architectural Historians 13
Archaeologists 50
Historical Architects 2
Landscape Architects <1
City Planners 4
Anthropologists 3
Geoarchaeologists 2
Suppliers <1
Preservation Planners 2
HABS/HAER Specialists 3
Underwater Archaeologists 1
Subsistence Specialists 1
Other CR Professionals 9

Where can I find a good geomorphologist, HABS/HAER specialist, or CRM firm with experience in my state?


ACRA's consultants database lists our members by discipline and region of the company with links to their websites. ACRA also maintains a webring, ACRAWEB, that can be accessed from any participating member's website or from the ACRA website.

Questions about how ACRA operates


Why do the archaeologists monopolize ACRA?


It is true that there are more archaeologists in ACRA than non-archaeologists, but they do not dominate the association's business. From the very beginning ACRA has made an attempt to recruit all disciplines, genders and regions of the country to serve on our board of directors and committees. Our officers, including president, have been historians and architects, not just archaeologists. If archaeologists seem to dominate the conversation on occasion it is due in part to other disciplines not speaking up.

Why do the larger firms take advantage of the smaller ACRA member firms?


Actually, the smaller firms pay significantly lower dues but have equal representation on the board of directors. As a practical matter, the smaller firms find it difficult to take the time and underwrite the cost required to participate fully. As they grow, they have been able to devote more time and resources to ACRA activities. On issues involving member input in a timely manner, all companies are equal unless they do not have the capacity for or regularly follow e-mail. It should be remembered that virtually all ACRA members are small businesses by federal standards.

Why do the larger firms pay a lower percentage of gross income than smaller member firms?


The largest firms pay $2075 in dues and the smallest pay $115, based on their gross income. This does not mean, of course, that they are making that much greater a profit or even breaking even, but gross income was chosen over net income since it generally does not fluctuate quite so much from year to year, and because the dues are a smaller percentage of overall costs for large firms. Gross rather than net profit was also used because the smaller firms would feel taken advantage of if they made a profit that would require high dues one year while a much larger company did not make a profit and paid much lower dues.

Why do smaller firms pay so little in dues compared to larger firms?


Smaller firms do indeed pay much lower dues than large firms. But the bylaws were written to try and attract as many firms as possible. If everyone paid higher dues, the smaller firms would not join. If everyone paid the lower dues, ACRA's budget would be one-fourth to one-third of what it is now, and we could not have accomplished as much as we have in such a short period. In a sense, the larger firms are subsidizing the smaller firms in part because they recognize and are willing to pay for the benefits of an organization that can carry some clout with other sectors of CRM and with government agencies, among others.

Why does ACRA have full corporate membership only for companies and not for individuals within companies?


ACRA was set up to make a difference, and it was felt at the time of incorporation that we needed the commitment of companies in terms of their manpower and funds to do what needed to be done to get the attention of the public, clients, and the other sectors of CRM, etc. Other organizations had faltered because of the lack of such support (the Society for Conservation Archaeology and the Society of Professional Archaeologists, among them) or had not fully met their potential. We needed significant amounts of money, and individual dues of $50 or $75 would have produced only a tenth of what corporate dues were capable of, given that most employees of CRM firms are not interested in the business of CRM and would not have joined. Having corporate membership has proved to be one of the keys to our success so far.

How can I participate more fully in ACRA activities?


Come to the general member meetings we hold at most major conferences to get to know other members, come to board meetings in your area (they are open to the membership), volunteer to run for a board seat, volunteer to join a committee, participate on ACRA-L and MembersOnly, and finally come to the annual conference and introduce yourself.

Does ACRA plan to develop personnel qualifications standards?


Not in the foreseeable future. ACRA does encourage its members to join the appropriate certification organizations as part of our mission to promote professionalism in CRM. We are a business organization, not a discipline oriented association. We cover too many disciplines to be able to set standards in all of them, and some of them already have standards boards (AIA and RPA, for example). In addition, the DOI standards are in general use already. As far as certification and a way of enforcing certification, if ACRA were somehow to be sanctioned by a state government as a regulatory body or if ACRA membership or certification were to be required to conduct CRM in that state, we could legitimately be accused of restraint of trade unless we allowed every applicant to join or we certified non-members in a non-discriminatory way. Since we are exclusively for the promotion of private sector CRM firms and an advocate for such firms, we do discriminate in our membership and rightly so. Thus, we could not allow all applicants to join without entirely changing the character and purpose of the association. Simply put, a trade association cannot also be a regulatory agency, nor should it. Most state licensing boards do that and nothing else, and to assure their objectivity they are usually made up of representatives of the various professional associations, business sectors, academics and the public at large, etc.


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9/15/2016 » 9/18/2016
ACRA 2016 Annual Conference


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