Career Development

How To Become an Anthropology Professor: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as an anthropology professor, including education, skills, salary and more.

Anthropology professors teach students about the various cultures and societies around the world. They conduct research on topics such as human evolution, social structure and cultural change. If you are interested in becoming an anthropology professor, it is important to know the steps you need to take to pursue this career. In this article, we discuss the steps to becoming an anthropology professor, including the education and experience you will need.

What Does an Anthropology Professor Do?

Anthropology professors typically teach courses in their area of specialty at the college level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly articles and books related to anthropology. The duties of an anthropology professor can vary depending on their position, but they typically include:

  • Planning and preparing lessons for classes
  • Teaching courses in their area of specialization
  • Assigning and grading student assignments and exams
  • Advising students on academic and career matters
  • Conducting research and publishing scholarly articles and books
  • Presenting papers at conferences
  • Serving on committees
  • Participating in departmental and university-wide events

Anthropology Professor Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for an anthropology professor is $78,795. This figure can vary based on the level of experience, education, industry and geographical location of the professor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for anthropology professors to increase at an average rate over the next decade. The growing popularity of anthropology as a field of study is expected to lead to more demand for these professionals. Additionally, the retirement of older generations of professors is also anticipated to create some openings in the field.

How to Become an Anthropology Professor

Here are several steps you should take to become an anthropology professor.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology

To become a anthropology professor, you first need to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. While there are many different types of anthropology degrees available, most colleges and universities offer an undergraduate degree in anthropology. Anthropology majors learn about the study of human beings and their cultures from a scientific perspective.

During your undergraduate studies, you will take courses on subjects such as physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistics and archaeology. You may also have the opportunity to conduct research or participate in fieldwork under the supervision of faculty members.

2. Complete a doctoral program in anthropology

To become a professor, you must earn a doctoral degree in anthropology. A doctorate program typically takes four to six years to complete and includes coursework, research and writing a dissertation based on original research conducted by the student.

During your first year of graduate school, you will take courses in various subfields of anthropology such as cultural anthropology, physical anthropology and linguistics. You may also take elective courses in other related fields such as sociology or psychology. During the second and third years of graduate school, you will conduct research for your dissertation under the supervision of an experienced professor.

3. Gain experience conducting research and writing papers in the field of anthropology

Conducting research is an important part of being a professor, and you can gain experience in this area while completing your bachelor’s or doctoral degree. During your undergraduate studies, consider taking part in field research with professors or graduate students to help you develop skills for conducting research independently.

You may also have the opportunity to write papers as you earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree. Completing these assignments helps you practice writing professional-level papers that are required during your career as an anthropology professor.

4. Teach courses at the college level

Once you have earned your doctorate, you can begin teaching courses at the college level. Many anthropology professors teach both undergraduate and graduate-level courses. Undergraduate courses are typically geared toward students who plan to enter a specific field such as business or medicine. Graduate-level courses are geared toward students who want to pursue a career in research or academia.

When applying for a position as an anthropology professor, it is important to consider what type of institution you would like to work for. Some colleges and universities focus on liberal arts education while others focus more on science and technology. Depending on your interests and career goals, you may prefer one type of institution over another.

5. Develop strong communication skills

Anthropology professors must be able to communicate complex ideas in a way that is understandable and engaging for students. Anthropology professors often teach large lecture courses where they must present information clearly and hold the attention of their audience.

It can also be important for anthropology professors to communicate research findings to other professionals in the field. They may need to write papers or give presentations about their research, which requires strong communication skills.

6. Stay up to date on new developments in the field of anthropology

Anthropology is a constantly evolving field, and new developments are made in the subject on a regular basis. It’s important for anthropology professors to stay up to date on these changes so they can incorporate them into their courses.

For example, advances in technology have allowed anthropologists to use satellite imagery and other tools to study subjects like geography and wildlife. Anthropology professors may need to update their course materials to reflect these advancements.

7. Join professional organizations such as the American Anthropological Association

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is a professional organization that provides resources and opportunities for anthropologists to network, share research and stay informed about developments in the field. Membership in the AAA can help anthropology professors find employment and get promoted within their institutions. The AAA also publishes journals and newsletters that keep its members up to date on new research findings and other relevant information.


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