Earnings Potential

In May 2004, anthropologists had median annual earnings of $43,890.

Facts at a Glance

  • About half worked for Federal, State, and local governments, mostly for the Federal Government.
  • The educational attainment of social scientists is among the highest of all occupations.
  • Anthropologists and archaeologists will experience average growth, but slower-than-average employment growth is expected for geographers, historians, political scientists, and sociologists because they enjoy fewer opportunities outside of government and academic settings.
  • Competition for jobs will remain keen for all specialties because many of these social scientists compete for jobs with other workers, such as psychologists, statisticians, and market and survey researchers.

Summary of what this career entails

Anthropologists study the nature of human beings in terms of physical, social and cultural development. Studying includes examining the way of life, archeological remains, and language or physical characteristics of human beings in different areas on Earth.  Some anthropologists study two different cultures and compare their ways of life in terms of customs, values and social patterns. The focus of individuals or organizations in this field is social-cultural anthropology, archeology, linguistics or biophysical anthropology. A social-cultural anthropologist studies the customs, cultures and social lives of all kinds of different groups in all different types of settings. A linguist anthropologist studies language and how it has changed over the years in different cultures. A biophysical anthropologist researches the body, how it is has evolved over the years and the relationship between culture and the body. A physical anthropologist examines human remains found at archeologists sites to see how they affect population.

Examples and or details of work

An example of the kinds of issues that anthropologists study can be found in an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed a study that an anthropologist is doing for a company that makes telephone headset. The anthropologist’s main interest is seeing someone in their natural habitat and watching their “ticks” and other things that are not even realized by the person. The anthropologist in the particular story found out about an individuals behavior at work as well. ( Another project an anthropologist might do is visit a prison and observe the prisoners and how they have reacted or adjusted to everyday life behind bars. Both of the above are examples of anthropology field work. On the American Values website there was a story a few years ago that discussed anthropology and at the beginning of said story talked about the sweepstakes mail that people get telling the recipient that he has won one million dollars and how the greetings of the letter change with each mailing.  That’s is more of an example of an anthropologist work in terms of observation.

Degrees that lead to this career

It is recommended that people with interested in anthropology get advanced degrees, although a bachelor’s may be enough depending on the job. The degree needed for a career in anthropology is some form of anthropology (whether it be anthropology itself or a specific field in anthropology such as medical anthropology).

Specific Career openings in this field

Specific careers in the anthropology field include researcher, evaluator, project manager, forensic anthropologist, medical anthropologist and professor.