Careers in Anthropology

A degree in anthropology provides students with one of the most diverse backgrounds available in the Arts and Sciences today. With the exception of some technical positions such as chemist or computer programmer, anthropology graduates are qualified for almost every occupation that all other Arts and Science graduates seek. These include business fields such as management, sales, and research. These also include positions in government service, in media, and non-governmental organizations as well. An anthropology degree also qualifies students for entry into a large number of graduate programs, including business, law, social work, and public health.

In many ways a degree in anthropology is more versatile than those from other Arts and Sciences fields. Because modern anthropology is such a broad discipline, encompassing four sub-fields of socio-cultural, archaeological, biological, and linguistic anthropology, it qualifies students for a wider range of careers than the typical Arts and Sciences graduate. Anthropology graduates have "people skills." They are comfortable in international or multi-cultural environments, have experience in real-world settings, are familiar with both qualitative and quantitative research methods, recognize the often complex interrelationships between individuals, society, and environment, have good general problem-solving skills, and above all can adapt to change and a diversity of work environments.

One of the most exciting areas of modern anthropology--and the source of increased numbers of anthropological careers--is applied or practicing anthropology. Applied anthropology is said by many to be the fifth anthropological sub-discipline. It is the fastest growing area of anthropology and is as diverse as the field as a whole. Applied anthropologists take the concepts, methods, and theories of academic anthropology and put them to use in the real-world, working for social change, community betterment, improved health and child care, positive racial and ethnic relations, preservation of the historical record, and other important social needs. More information about the field of Applied Anthropology or programs of study in Applied Anthropology can be found at the Society for Applied Anthropology web site.

Every anthropology sub-discipline has applied career opportunities. Archaeologists are involved in Cultural Resources Management. They analyze, protect, and conserve the remains of our past unearthed in modern construction projects. They work in museums, with state government, with the US Forest Service or in the National Parks. Applied linguistic anthropologists are involved in "English as a Second Language" (ESL) educational programs, they are concerned with the effectiveness of bilingual education, and also contribute to improving communication in various organizations.

Biological anthropologists have career opportunities in law enforcement as forensic anthropologists. Forensic anthropologists assist in criminal investigations and reconstruct the nature and causes of injuries or death of victims of accidents or crime. Biological and socio-cultural anthropologists also contribute to the rapidly growing field of medical anthropology, which considers the relationship between culture and the causes, prevention, and treatment of disease. Medical anthropologists work in Public Health, Nursing, or Medical Administration. They work with AIDS patients, drug addicts, victims of Alzheimers disease, and others. Some study the effects of aging cross-culturally or examine how different occupations in different cultures influence human biological and mental health. The Society for Medical Anthropology can provide more information about careers and programs in Medical Anthropology.

A number of applied career opportunities are also available to socio-cultural anthropologists. They work both at home and abroad in international development agencies like the World Bank, the United Nations or the United States Agency for International Development. They also work in private organizations like the Red Cross, Oxfam, or Americares. They are hired by corporations to analyze work relations and work place culture, facilitate understanding between people of different cultures involved in joint business ventures, or contribute to marketing and advertising campaigns. They serve as government-employed mediators who help people of different ethnic and racial groups reach accommodation arising in culture-based misunderstanding. They are "street ethnographers" who analyze the culture of the homeless, drug users, youth gangs. They work in urban and regional planning agencies, in senior centers, in community agencies, public housing projects, and everywhere people come together in social groups to create meaning for their