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Anthropologist

Overview and Key Facts

woman digging
Education
Education
Master's degree
Median Pay
Median Pay
$61,910
Job Growth
Job Growth
6.10%
(Above US Average)
Jobs in 2031
Jobs in 2031
7,900

What Do They Do?

An anthropologist could...

Overview Listen to this section

Anthropologists who are employed by colleges and universities usually spend much of their time in offices, classrooms, and libraries. Their working hours are flexible but often total more than 40 hours a week. Most anthropologists also do some field work. This work may take them to study sites as diverse as the Arctic to study the Inuit or Eskimos, to Africa to dig at an archaeological site or observe monkeys in their natural habitat, or into a modern city to record the behavior and attitudes of members of a particular ethnic group. Anthropologists engaged in field work require good physical stamina. Most anthropologists find that the challenge of making new discoveries more than compensates for any lack of physical comfort on field trips. Anthropologists who work for museums or for businesses or government agencies face a wide variety of working conditions.

Watch this video to meet 4.4 million year old "Ardi", one of the most important fossils ever found. Ardi tells us that our last common ancestor was not like a chimpanzee, overturning old ideas.

Do You Have the Skills and Characteristics of an Anthropologist?


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  3. Active Listening: ?
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Core Tasks

Think about if you'd like the typical tasks an Anthropologist might do:
  • Study objects and structures recovered by excavation to identify, date, and authenticate them and to interpret their significance.
  • Collect information and make judgments through observation, interviews, and review of documents.
  • Research, survey, or assess sites of past societies and cultures in search of answers to specific research questions.
  • Write about and present research findings for a variety of specialized and general audiences.
  • Describe artifacts' physical properties or attributes, such as the materials from which artifacts are made and their size, shape, function, and decoration.
  • Plan and direct research to characterize and compare the economic, demographic, health care, social, political, linguistic, and religious institutions of distinct cultural groups, communities, and organizations.
  • Compare findings from one site with archeological data from other sites to find similarities or differences.
  • Record the exact locations and conditions of artifacts uncovered in diggings or surveys, using drawings and photographs as necessary.
  • Assess archeological sites for resource management, development, or conservation purposes and recommend methods for site protection.
  • Gather and analyze artifacts and skeletal remains to increase knowledge of ancient cultures.
  • Collect artifacts made of stone, bone, metal, and other materials, placing them in bags and marking them to show where they were found.
  • Identify culturally specific beliefs and practices affecting health status and access to services for distinct populations and communities, in collaboration with medical and public health officials.
  • Consult site reports, existing artifacts, and topographic maps to identify archeological sites.
  • Train others in the application of ethnographic research methods to solve problems in organizational effectiveness, communications, technology development, policy making, and program planning.
  • Advise government agencies, private organizations, and communities regarding proposed programs, plans, and policies and their potential impacts on cultural institutions, organizations, and communities.
  • Create data records for use in describing and analyzing social patterns and processes, using photography, videography, and audio recordings.
  • Develop intervention procedures, using techniques such as individual and focus group interviews, consultations, and participant observation of social interaction.
  • Develop and test theories concerning the origin and development of past cultures.
  • Lead field training sites and train field staff, students, and volunteers in excavation methods.
  • Collaborate with economic development planners to decide on the implementation of proposed development policies, plans, and programs based on culturally institutionalized barriers and facilitating circumstances.
  • Clean, restore, and preserve artifacts.
  • Conduct participatory action research in communities and organizations to assess how work is done and to design work systems, technologies, and environments.
  • Organize public exhibits and displays to promote public awareness of diverse and distinctive cultural traditions.
  • Formulate general rules that describe and predict the development and behavior of cultures and social institutions.
  • Study archival collections of primary historical sources to help explain the origins and development of cultural patterns.
  • Apply traditional ecological knowledge and assessments of culturally distinctive land and resource management institutions to assist in the resolution of conflicts over habitat protection and resource enhancement.
  • Enhance the cultural sensitivity of elementary and secondary curricula and classroom interactions in collaboration with educators and teachers.
  • Participate in forensic activities, such as tooth and bone structure identification, in conjunction with police departments and pathologists.
  • Teach or mentor undergraduate and graduate students in athropology or archeology.
  • Write grant proposals to obtain funding for research.

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Steps to Get There: Becoming an Anthropologist

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