Anthropologists study the origin, development, and organization of human culture. They study human beings and human behavior. They usually focus on a specific culture or society, such as a particular group of people or a country. Anthropologists study topics like marriage, family, kinship, social status, religion, and art.
Anthropologists may do fieldwork to learn about a particular culture. Fieldwork involves observing people in their natural environment and often living with them for an extended period of time. Anthropologists may also work in museums or archives to help preserve historical artifacts from different cultures.
Most anthropologists hold a Ph.D. in anthropology or a related field. Most also have practical experience in their field before earning their degree. This experience can come from working with museums, archaeological sites, or other research institutions, or from conducting independent research in the field.
Anthropologist Job Duties
The typical duties of an anthropologist include:
- Conducting fieldwork to collect information about human cultures and social behavior
- Collecting data by observing people’s behaviors, recording data, conducting interviews, surveys, experiments, or censuses
- Applying advanced skills in statistical analysis to support decisions based on research findings
- Working with indigenous peoples to record their cultural heritage, ensure their rights are protected, and promote their survival
- Presenting research findings in oral form to various audiences, including public forums, academic conferences, and community groups
- Documenting their work in reports and presentations for scholarly publications
- Training new anthropologists in ethnographic methods
Anthropologist Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for anthropologists is $62,703. The highest earners make over $100,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work for scientific research and development services companies.
The employment of anthropologists is projected to grow faster than average over the next decade. This is due to the growing interest in international markets and culture as well as the increased focus on health care. Anthropologists will be needed to conduct research on these topics.
Anthropologist Job Requirements
An anthropologist must be highly educated and skilled in many areas. The following are some of the requirements for this job:
Education: Although an undergraduate or master’s degree may be sufficient for some employers, many require anthropologists to have a doctorate degree in anthropology. Doctoral programs take four to six years to complete. Courses include introductory anatomy and physiology, theories of culture, human evolution, physical anthropology and archaeology.
Training: Many universities offer internships to anthropology students that allow them to explore careers in the field. These internships may require work hours that are similar to full-time jobs. They are often completed during the student’s final year of study.
Certifications: Certification is not required to become an anthropologist, but it does enhance an individual’s qualifications for the job. For example, the Certified Interpretive Planner certificate can help a candidate stand out.
Anthropologists must have the following skills:
Observation skills: Anthropologists need to be able to observe and record information about their subjects.
Writing skills: Anthropologists are expected to write reports, field notes, journal entries, and other written documents.
Interpersonal skills: Anthropologists need strong interpersonal skills in order to work with others.
Research skills: Anthropologists need to be able to conduct research on topics related to their work. They often study past or present cultures.
Cultural sensitivity: An understanding of various cultures is necessary for this job. Anthropology is the study of humans around the world.
Problem-solving skills: An anthropologist must be able to think on his or her feet and solve problems when necessary. This is especially important when interviewing people about their lives.
Anthropologist Work Environment
Anthropologists spend the majority of their time doing research. This may mean visiting locations, observing daily life, and interviewing people. Anthropologists must be able to deal with problems associated with living or working in remote areas. They are likely to face difficult weather conditions; for example, some places they visit might experience severe storms, intense heat, or flooding.
Most anthropologists work alone, but they collaborate with other scientists through written communications, phone calls, emails, and conferences. They also write reports about their findings, which takes up a large part of their day. Many assist local government officials by consulting on issues regarding social policies and community development. When they aren’t traveling or conducting research, they spend most of their time at their offices. Some work regular business hours, while others may have flexible schedules.
Anthropologist Career Advancement
As an anthropologist, you will likely need a Ph.D. to advance your career. Nonetheless, there are a few different paths to take within this field. You might become a college professor, a museum curator, or a curator for a private collection. You’ll also be able to choose from several different specializations, such as archaeology, urban anthropology, and forensic anthropology. Some anthropologists will also choose to work in research and development, while others will work in law enforcement. The opportunities in this field vary greatly and there is an option for almost anyone who wants to work in the field.
Here are three trends influencing how anthropologists work. Anthropologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Growth of the “Open Source” Anthropology Movement
The Open Source Anthropology movement aims to promote public knowledge about anthropology. This concept has taken off in recent years, with members of the anthropological community collaborating with one another to share information and make their findings available to the public.
Increasing Importance of Cultural Intelligence
While ethnographic methods and the ability to observe behavior in order to understand culture is not new, the importance of cultural intelligence has increased in recent years as anthropologists have had to adapt their methods and approaches in order to understand cultures with which they may not have much experience.
As companies expand their global reach, more and more organizations are hiring experts who can bridge gaps between cultures and who can interpret data in a way that is culturally sensitive and relevant.
Value of Culture in Corporate Settings
This trend also affects how businesses understand the cultures of the customers they are targeting, which can be essential for success in global markets.
For example, companies looking to enter foreign markets need to understand the culture and preferences of that country’s consumers if they want to effectively target them.
The use of ethnographic methods such as focus groups and surveys is becoming increasingly common among organizations as they seek to better understand these nuances and create more effective products.
How to Become an Anthropologist
1. Planning Your Career Path
To become an anthropologist, you must have a passion for discovery and want to learn about other cultures. You can expect to spend much of your time in the field studying cultural practices and artifacts.
Consider your personality and whether you enjoy interacting with people. Anthropologists work closely with other individuals to help them understand why people behave the way they do, so empathy is a key trait for this position.
Additionally, anthropologists must have a strong understanding of various cultures in order to relate to the people they are studying. If you have an interest in global affairs or cross-cultural communication, then becoming an anthropologist may be a good fit for you.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for anthropologists highlight their ability to conduct research, analyze data, and communicate ideas. These skills are essential to this position and should be listed first on your resume. It’s also a good idea to emphasize your knowledge of anthropological theory and methods.
Also be sure to list all relevant education that you have completed, as well as non-academic experiences such as conducting interviews or researching topics on your own time. If you have been published in academic journals it’s a good idea to include the title of the article and the name of the journal so employers can easily find them online.
3. Applying for Jobs
The best way to find a job as an anthropologist is to get active in the field. Attend local conferences and talks, look for volunteer work with local organizations, and build your contacts by making friends in the community. Before making any connections, however, it’s important to make sure you are clear on the types of jobs that you want and where they are available. For example, if you want to work for a particular museum or educational institution, try attending their events.
If you don’t already have one, you can also establish an online presence that includes links to your work. Use this platform to share information about what it’s like to be an anthropologist and give potential employers a look at your expertise.
4. Ace the Interview
In preparation for an interview with an anthropologist, you should research the position to which you are applying. With a thorough understanding of the environment in which you would be working, you can better craft your responses to questions about why you want to work in a particular institution and what your qualifications are. Employers will want to know that you understand the relevance of anthropology in the world today and can offer insight on a few of the most compelling ideas in the field.
Be sure to thoroughly review any previous experience of yours that aligns with the duties of this position. Make sure your personal experience will demonstrate your ability to perform the job well; this is especially important if there is no prior professional experience directly related to this type of job.
Think about how you can highlight your skills and strengths without coming off as overly confident or cocky. Share examples and stories from your previous work experiences that demonstrate your abilities in personable terms.