version 3, draft 3

How to Become an Anthropologist in the United States

A career in anthropology allows you to study cultures, human behavior and understand the origin of humans. The career offers you a unique perspective into human interactions in the past and presently. You also have an opportunity to travel the world for fieldwork.

What Do Anthropologists Do?

Anthropologist can either work an academic or non-academic setting. Your job description will vary depending on the setting. However, the following may be part on your job description at one point or another in your career.

  • Teach both graduate and undergraduate programs for academic anthropologists
  • Research on a peoples’ cultures, customs, social norms and the external influences affecting a community
  • Study languages as a communication tool and a cultural identity
  • Study interaction of cultures
  • Research on the evolution of humans by looking for evidence on human life
  • Advise governments and other institutions on the cultural impact of implementing different policies
  • Understand cultural practices that affect a community’s way of life, especially in remote communities
  • Train different groups on the application of ethnographic research practices in solving problems and increasing efficiency
  • Collect and record data that is useful in the study and analysis of social patterns
  • Enhance cultural sensitivity by devising a curriculum for schools and other learning institutions
  • Study food habits amongst cultures and advise different organizations on different ways they can work with communities to increase food security


To pursue a successful career in anthropology, you will need the following qualifications:

  • A bachelor’s degree in anthropology, cultural studies or history for a part time job or internship as an assistant
  • A master’s degree in anthropology for an entry level position
  • A Ph.D. in anthropology especially for a career as an academic anthropologist
  • Field experience of up to 3 years


Your career in anthropology will require you to hone certain skills. For example:

  • Creative and critical thinking
  • Research skills such as data collection, analysis and interpretation
  • Understanding of human and cultural diversity
  • Strong communication skills
  • Recognition and respect for different cultural practice
  • Ability to adapt to different cultures
  • A keen eye

Work Environment

In case you pursue an academic career, you will spend a lot of time in a university or college setting with students and doing research based on existing information. You may also collaborate with anthropologists on the field to test and analyze samples in a lab.

Alternatively, your career will take you to different parts of the world where you will interact with different cultures. You may have to give up the comfort of modern living as you will spend a lot of time in remote communities.

An academic setting has regular hours and predictable schedules. On the contrary, fieldwork is not predictable. Your setting and interaction with a culture determines your next steps.


Entry Level



Middle Level







Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013

Career Prospects

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, career opportunities for anthropologists will increase up to 19 percent from 2012-2022. This will open up more employment opportunities for you to advance your career and explore different areas in anthropology.

In your fieldwork, you get to collect photographs and record videos of your work, which you can share with others in an exhibition or as a documentary. Alternatively, you can sell your work to museums, historical publications or organizations that showcase cultural and historical documentaries. Schools that teach anthropology can also buy your work, creating an extra source of revenue.

If you have a keen interest in human history, cultural and diversity, you should consider a career in anthropology.

Image Source:

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'





Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'

G up arrow
</script> </script>