Careers in Anthropology

"Adding an anthropologist to a research team is like moving from black-and-white TV to color," says Crain. "We're able to observe shades of color that others can't see. Anthropologists understand complexity and can help devise answers that reflect that complexity." -read more in Anthropologists Go Native in the Corporate Village

"Anthropologists are nothing if not flexible in the job market, as the career pathways analysis showed." -excerpted from the 2009 MA Alumni Survey

In response to a survey by the American Anthropological Association's Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA)*, respondents provided the following responses to describe their post-graduate employment:

Education/Outreach Administration/Management
Archaeology Ethnography/Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Resource Management (CRM) Evaluation/Assessment
Historic Preservation Health (international/public health)
Museum/Curation/Project Design Environment and Natural Resources
Community Development Business
Advocacy (human rights/social justice) Tourism/Heritage
Human/Social Services Healthcare Management/Services/Deliver
Computers/Software Development/Information Technology Management Consulting/Organizational Development/Training
Design (products and/or services) Social Impact Assessment
International Development/Affairs Market Research
Forensics Law/Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement
Mass Communication Humanitarian Efforts

*Please be advised the AAA is not responsible for either these websites or the information they provide but merely supplies the information as a service to the anthropological community.

Today's anthropologists do not just work in exotic locations. Anthropologists can be found in a surprising array of fields and careers, not least of which being mother-of-the-President of the United States of America. Anthropologists can be found in corporations, all levels of government, educational institutions and non-profit associations. Anthropologists work in disaster areas, including Ground Zero in New York and the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Check out the diversity of anthropologists in attendance at the 2012 Careers Expo at the AAA Annual Meeting in San Francisco and the 2013 Careers Expo at the Annual Meeting in Chicago. The 2013 Annual Meeting also featured a NAPA-reviewed roundtable session titled Anthropologists in the Job Market, where presenters "consider[ed] best practices for anthropology graduate programs to prepare Ph.D. students for successful careers on and off the tenure track."  On Wednesday, January 22, 2014, Riall Nolan presented a Professional Development Webinar for anthropologists outside of the academy, with guidance on CV writing, job search tips, interviewing advice, and more. View the slideshow for A Career in Practice: First Steps for Anthropologists or access the archived webinar on our Conferences page.

Whatever their field of choice, anthropologists can change the way we view and interact with our world. There are many areas of anthropological study...

  • Sociocultural Anthropology - Examines social patterns and practices across cultures
  • Archaeology - Studies past people and cultures through the analysis of material remains
  • Physical Anthropology - Studies animal origins and biologically determined nature of humankind
  • Linguistic Anthropology - Studies the ways in which language reflects and influences social life
  • Medical Anthropology - Seeks to better understand factors that influence peoples' health and well being
  • Forensic Anthropology - Analyzes skeletal, decomposed, or otherwise unidentified human remains to aid in detection of crime
  • Business Anthropology - Applies anthropological theories and methods to identify and solve business problems
  • Visual Anthropology - Uses images for the description, analysis, communication and interpretation of behavior
  • Environmental Anthropology - Examines how people interact with, respond to, and bring about changes in the environment 
  • Museum Anthropology - Studies the history of museums, their role in society, and changes in this role

This link from Elgin Community College offers a useful breakdown of the fields in which anthropologists are often employed, as well as the skill sets required for each career. 

Check out some of the stories below and learn more about the life-altering work of anthropologists.  

There are many great reasons why studying anthropology should be considered by undergraduate and master's students. First, the material is intellectually exciting. Additionally, anthropology prepares students for excellent jobs and opens doors to various career paths. To learn more about careers in anthropology, please continue reading about Career Paths and Education.

Additional Career Resources:

  • Career ideas

Versatile PhD - The Versatile PhD mission is to help humanities and social science (and STEM as of July 2013) graduate students identify and prepare for possible non-academic careers. We want them to be informed about academic employment realities, educated about non-academic career options, and supported towards a wide range of careers, so that in the end, they have choices. 

icould: Inspiration for your career - Use our Career Wizard to find jobs that may suit you.

  • Portfolio development 

Professional Development webinar with Riall Nolan - The webinar topic is professional development and career building for anthropologists outside of the academy. Program topics will include CV writing, job search tips, interviewing and more.
- View the recorded session on WebEx or on the AAA YouTube channel 
- Download the PowerPoint presentation

Academic & Professional Resource Documents - Centre for Comparative Literature University of Toronto

The Professor Is In  - Getting Your Through Graduate School, The Job Market and Tenure…

Ask the Headhunter - Breaking Ranks & Rules: How academics can avoid 5 fatal mistakes in the job hunt

  • Moral support

Survival Blog for Scientists - Professional scientists write about their scientific life. Contributors are scientists in various stages of their career: from junior to senior. The aim is to supply scientists with tips on how to survive in science.

Get a Life, PhD - Succeed in Academia and Have a Life Too

Anthropology on PBS

Time Team America on PBS Anthropologists in Action
PBS's series, Time Team America, is a view into anthropology and archaeology work in action. Read more at


This is Anthropology
Visit the AAA's website.

Where Can I Publish My Research Article?
The maze of journal titles and procedures can be baffling for a young scholar. Click here for a few tips to get you started.

Profiles in Practice

 Profiles in PracticeThe Profiles in Practice column appeared in Anthropology News from February 2007 until May 2008. The idea for the column was to provide a broad coverage across a range of sectors. Anthropological pioneers in areas such as finance, banking and investment, marketing, housing, tourism and heritage, philanthropy, museums and corporate planning were interviewed. Learn more >>

AAA Sections and Committees
In addition to 38 Sections where any anthropologist will be able to find a niche, AAA has 21 Committees and Commissions, many of which have great career resources. Learn more >>