What Is An Anthropologist?
An anthropologist is a social scientist who studies human societies, cultures, and their development. They are responsible for examining and interpreting the behavior, beliefs, social structures, and physical traits of human groups in various societies, both past and present. Anthropologists use qualitative and quantitative research methods to collect data, analyze findings, and gain insights into various aspects of human life.
The primary duties of anthropologists include:
- Conducting field research to collect data on human societies and cultures
- Using various research methods, such as interviews, surveys, and participant observation
- Analyzing evidence, artifacts, and data to understand human behavior and culture
- Writing reports, articles, and books to present research findings
- Collaborating with other researchers and professionals to conduct interdisciplinary studies
- Teaching students about anthropology at colleges and universities
- Providing expert advice to government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private companies on cultural and social issues
- Preserving and protecting cultural heritage and resources
Anthropologists must comply with ethical guidelines set forth by professional organizations, such as the American Anthropological Association, to protect the rights and well-being of research participants and the integrity of the discipline.
Day In The Life of an Anthropologist
A typical day for an anthropologist may involve a variety of activities, depending on their area of expertise and the stage of their research. Some anthropologists spend most of their time conducting fieldwork, during which they observe, interview, and interact with people in their natural environments. They may also examine artifacts, take notes, record data, and engage in cultural activities to better understand the people they are studying.
When not in the field, anthropologists may spend their time analyzing data, writing reports and articles, attending conferences, or teaching at colleges and universities. They may also consult with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private companies on cultural matters, such as heritage preservation or cross-cultural communication.
Anthropologist Work Schedule
Anthropologists typically work full-time, but their schedules may vary depending on their specific job or research project. Fieldwork may require long hours and extended stays away from home, while academic positions may involve teaching, administrative tasks, and research during the academic year. Anthropologists working as consultants or in non-academic positions may have more regular office hours but may also need to travel for fieldwork or meetings.
Physical and mental requirements for anthropologists can include long hours of observation, note-taking, and data analysis, as well as resiliency in adapting to diverse cultural settings and environmental conditions.
Growth Of The Anthropologist Career
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of anthropologists and archaeologists is projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by the increasing demand for anthropologists in research, consulting, and private industry roles, particularly in the areas of cultural resource management, public health, and international development.
Typical Anthropologist Employers
Anthropologists can find employment in a variety of organizations, such as:
- Colleges and universities
- Government agencies, such as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Non-governmental organizations, including international development agencies and cultural heritage groups
- Museums and cultural centers
- Private consulting firms specializing in cultural resource management, public health, or international development
- Corporations, particularly those with a global reach or an interest in cross-cultural communication and understanding
How To Become An Anthropologist
To become an anthropologist, individuals typically need to complete a bachelor’s degree in anthropology or a related field. However, most professional anthropologists hold a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in anthropology. Graduate programs often require students to specialize in a subfield of anthropology, such as cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, or biological anthropology.
In addition to formal education, anthropologists may also need training in specific research methods, languages, or technical skills relevant to their area of expertise. For some positions, particularly in academia or government, anthropologists may also need to obtain professional certifications or licensures.
Anthropologist Salary Data
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for anthropologists and archaeologists was $63,670 in May 2019, with the lowest 10% earning less than $39,460 and the highest 10% earning more than $97,950. In comparison to other social science careers, anthropologists tend to earn slightly more than sociologists and slightly less than economists.
Popular Colleges for Anthropologists
Some popular institutions offering degrees in anthropology include:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- University of Chicago
- University of California, Berkeley
- Yale University
- University of Michigan
- University of Pennsylvania
Job Growth Projections And Forecast for Anthropologists
As mentioned earlier, the number of anthropologists and archaeologists is expected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, which translates to an increase of approximately 700 jobs. This growth is fueled by increasing demand for anthropologists’ expertise in various sectors, such as cultural resource management, public health, and international development. Competition for academic positions may be strong, but job prospects should be better for those willing to work in non-academic settings or as consultants.