How To Become An Anthropologist

Anthropology is the study of humans and their past and present societies. Anthropologists are interested in learning more about human societies so we can understand them better. Even though we have learned a lot about life here on earth, there is still much to learn. As an anthropologist, you will do research in the field. You will research how different communities interact with each other, survive, and grow.

Your research will help humanity understand each other better, what makes us all similar, and what makes us unique. In order to become an anthropologist you will need to have at least a master’s degree and have many years of experience in hands-on research.

Why Become An Anthropologist

Anthropologists spend much of their time involved in research. Many anthropologists choose a specific topic that they want to research, whether it is communities in sub-saharan Africa or islands in the Pacific Ocean. In order to fully understand these communities, they must go there and research them. Anthropologists travel to sites and often spend months at a time fully immersing themselves in a culture.

There are many famous anthropologists. Margaret Mead made many different trips to South Pacific islands such as Samoa and New Guinea, to learn about their people. Jane Goodall is an anthropologist who specializes in chimpanzees and has studied them for many years in various places in Africa.

Anthropologists look at how different societies get food and what they eat; what types of homes they live in; what clothes they wear; what their family life is structured like; what kinds of etiquette and customs they have; what their sex and marriage rituals are like; and more. Anthropologists publish scientific papers based on their findings and also discuss their findings at conferences.

Anthropologists should possess the following qualities and skills:

Anthropologist Work Environment

Anthropologists are often working in the field. They travel to different destinations, within their own country, or even internationally. This can involve working in isolated and remote conditions, in all different types of weather and rugged terrain. Often anthropologists work by themselves, not with a team of other people; a person in this career must feel comfortable working independently.

Anthropologists often spend long durations of time in a dedicated location, learning all that they can about a city, its people and culture. When they travel back to their research institution, they analyze their data and write reports about what they have observed.

Anthropologist Salary

The median annual salary was $63,160 in 2016 for anthropologists, according to the United States Bureau for Labor Statistics.

Most anthropologists work full time. This position requires regular business hours, though it often also requires traveling. Anthropologists may be eligible for a higher salary depending on their level of work experience and education. Anthropologist salaries can vary depending on the industry they are employed in. Those employed by the federal government earned slightly more money, with a median salary of $75,000 in 2016, while those employed by research institutions earned approximately $57,000.

Average Anthropologist Annual Salary


The average annual salary for anthropologists is $66,330 a year. Salaries start at $36,390 a year and go up to $99,580 a year.

Average Anthropologist Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a anthropologist is $31.89. Hourly wages are between $17.50 and $47.88 an hour.

Stats were based out of 6,120 employed anthropologists in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Anthropologists

Top Paying Cities For Anthropologists

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Anthropologist Career Outlook

Employment for anthropologists is expected to grow slowly, with a four percent increase from 2014 to 2024.

Many anthropologists work for government organizations. Governments have limited resources, and may restrict hiring due to their budget sizes. Anthropologists also rely on grants in order to fund their research. There may be fierce competition in order to receive monies in order to fulfill scientific research. In total only approximately 300 new anthropology jobs are expected to be created between 2014 and 2024. Anthropologists with extensive experience and education will stand the best chance at receiving a position.

Anthropologist Degree

If you would like to become an anthropologist, read more below.

Step 1: Undergraduate education. A bachelor’s degree is required if you want to become an anthropologist. A degree in anthropology is a great choice, as well as a degree in sociology, history, archaeology, or a related program. During this time you will take courses and learn if this career is the best fit for you. It takes four years to receive your bachelor’s degree.

Step 2: Graduate education. You will need to go to graduate school in order to complete a career as an anthropologist. Many anthropologists have a master’s degree. Research programs that are well known for their anthropology programs and apply. During this program you will have the ability to engage in more advanced research and coursework. It takes two years to receive your master’s degree. Some people choose to obtain a PhD in anthropology.

This may be necessary for jobs with even more advanced knowledge, or if you would like to make yourself a more competitive candidate. During a doctorate program you will complete a dissertation, which requires approximately three years of research in the field. It takes approximately eight years to receive a PhD in anthropology.

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