Careers in Anthropology

Anthropology is good preparation for many areas of employment. It is true that you will not open the local newspaper and see a help wanted ad for “Anthropologist.” But the skills and information that you gain in anthropology can be relevant to jobs in education, health care, business, human resources, law enforcement, and international development. A successful job-seeker is one who will be able to explain the core strengths of anthropology to a potential employer.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in their Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2009-2010 Edition, that they expect healthy job growth in the fields of anthropology and archaeology during the period 2008-2018. The report continued:

“Overall employment of anthropologists and archaeologists, geographers, and historians is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Anthropologists and archaeologists, the largest specialty, is expected to grow by 28 percent, driven by growth in the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry.

Anthropologists who work as consultants will be needed to apply their analytical skills and knowledge to problems ranging from economic development to forensics. A growing number of anthropologists also will be needed in specific segments of the Federal Government, such as the U.S. Department of Defense, to assess the regional customs and values—or “cultural terrain”—of a particular society in specific parts of the world. Employment growth of archaeologists will be driven by higher levels of overall construction, including large-scale transportation projects and upgrades to the Nation’s infrastructure. As construction projects increase, more archaeologists will be needed to ensure that Federal laws related to the preservation of archaeological and historical sites and artifacts are met.”

There is current information about the professions of anthropology and archaeology from the Occupational Outlook Handbook from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, anthropology provides students with skills that will be important in a variety of jobs: ability to gather and analyze data; sensitivity of human social and biological patterns; social and cultural flexibility. Anthropology students are well prepared to “think globally, act locally,” a strategy which will be essential in the future in most professions.

Anthropology students who are interested in working in the academic world should pursue an M.A. degree and probably a Ph.D. in anthropology. Other students may want to pursue graduate education in related fields such as education, social work, business administration, or others.

Applied Anthropology is the most rapidly growing area of employment in the field. Applied Anthropologists work in a variety of settings — government agencies, non-profit organizations, medical centers, schools, etc. — to solve contemporary social problems through the application of anthropological methods and knowledge.

Anthropology majors from UNC Charlotte are currently working in museums and universities, for police departments, banks, health agencies, and school systems. In recent years, our graduates have gone to graduate school at Arizona State University, University of Pittsburgh, East Carolina University, University of Georgia, and Stanford University.

You can find more information about a career in Anthropology at the following Websites:

American Anthropological Association – about Careers in Anthropology.
Frequently Asked Questions About Careers in Archaeology
Non-academic Careers in Physical Anthropology