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Career profile Anthropologist

Also known as American Indian Policy Specialist, Applied Anthropologist, Applied Cultural Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Curator, Forensic Anthropologist, Research Anthropologist, Research Archaeologist

Anthropologist

Also known as American Indian Policy Specialist, Applied Anthropologist, Applied Cultural Anthropologist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$40,800 - $102,770 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Writing
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • History and Archeology
  • Geography
Core tasks
  • Teach or mentor undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology or archeology.
  • Write grant proposals to obtain funding for research.
  • Study objects and structures recovered by excavation to identify, date, and authenticate them and to interpret their significance.
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What does an Anthropologist do?

Anthropologists study the origin, development, and behavior of human beings.

In addition, Anthropologists

  • may study the way of life, language, or physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world,
  • may engage in systematic recovery and examination of material evidence, such as tools or pottery remaining from past human cultures, in order to determine the history, customs, and living habits of earlier civilizations.

What kind of tasks does an Anthropologist perform regularly?

Anthropologists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Study objects and structures recovered by excavation to identify, date, and authenticate them and to interpret their significance.
  • Collect information and make judgments through observation, interviews, and review of documents.
  • Research, survey, or assess sites of past societies and cultures in search of answers to specific research questions.
  • Write about and present research findings for a variety of specialized and general audiences.
  • Describe artifacts' physical properties or attributes, such as the materials from which artifacts are made and their size, shape, function, and decoration.
  • Plan and direct research to characterize and compare the economic, demographic, health care, social, political, linguistic, and religious institutions of distinct cultural groups, communities, and organizations.
  • Assess archeological sites for resource management, development, or conservation purposes and recommend methods for site protection.
  • Compare findings from one site with archeological data from other sites to find similarities or differences.
  • Record the exact locations and conditions of artifacts uncovered in diggings or surveys, using drawings and photographs as necessary.
  • Gather and analyze artifacts and skeletal remains to increase knowledge of ancient cultures.
  • Collect artifacts made of stone, bone, metal, and other materials, placing them in bags and marking them to show where they were found.
  • Identify culturally specific beliefs and practices affecting health status and access to services for distinct populations and communities, in collaboration with medical and public health officials.
  • Consult site reports, existing artifacts, and topographic maps to identify archeological sites.
  • Train others in the application of ethnographic research methods to solve problems in organizational effectiveness, communications, technology development, policy making, and program planning.
  • Develop intervention procedures, using techniques such as individual and focus group interviews, consultations, and participant observation of social interaction.
  • Advise government agencies, private organizations, and communities regarding proposed programs, plans, and policies and their potential impacts on cultural institutions, organizations, and communities.
  • Create data records for use in describing and analyzing social patterns and processes, using photography, videography, and audio recordings.
  • Develop and test theories concerning the origin and development of past cultures.
  • Lead field training sites and train field staff, students, and volunteers in excavation methods.
  • Collaborate with economic development planners to decide on the implementation of proposed development policies, plans, and programs based on culturally institutionalized barriers and facilitating circumstances.
  • Organize public exhibits and displays to promote public awareness of diverse and distinctive cultural traditions.
  • Conduct participatory action research in communities and organizations to assess how work is done and to design work systems, technologies, and environments.
  • Clean, restore, and preserve artifacts.
  • Formulate general rules that describe and predict the development and behavior of cultures and social institutions.
  • Study archival collections of primary historical sources to help explain the origins and development of cultural patterns.
  • Apply traditional ecological knowledge and assessments of culturally distinctive land and resource management institutions to assist in the resolution of conflicts over habitat protection and resource enhancement.
  • Enhance the cultural sensitivity of elementary and secondary curricula and classroom interactions in collaboration with educators and teachers.
  • Participate in forensic activities, such as tooth and bone structure identification, in conjunction with police departments and pathologists.

The above responsibilities are specific to Anthropologists. More generally, Anthropologists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

What is an Anthropologist salary?

The median salary for an Anthropologist is $66,130, and the average salary is $69,960. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Anthropologist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Anthropologists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Anthropologists earn less than $40,800 per year, 25% earn less than $51,170, 75% earn less than $84,560, and 90% earn less than $102,770.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Anthropologists is expected to change by 7.1%, and there should be roughly 800 open positions for Anthropologists every year.

Median annual salary
$66,130
Typical salary range
$40,800 - $102,770
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
7.1%

What personality traits are common among Anthropologists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Anthropologist are usually higher in their Investigative, Artistic, and Realistic interests.

Anthropologists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Anthropologists typically have strong Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Lastly, Anthropologists typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Anthropologist tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Anthropologists very strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Anthropologists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Anthropologists strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Anthropologists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as analytical thinking, integrity, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Anthropologists, ranked by importance:

Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Persistence
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

What education and training do Anthropologists need?

Many Anthropologists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Anthropologists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Anthropologists

  • 0.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 1.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 6.0% completed some college coursework
  • 4.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 32.8% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 38.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 16.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Anthropologists

Anthropologists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as sociology and anthropology, history and archeology, or geography knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Anthropologists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
History and Archeology
Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
Geography
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Foreign Language
Knowledge of the structure and content of a foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.

Important Abilities needed by Anthropologists

Anthropologists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Anthropologists need abilities such as written comprehension, written expression, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Anthropologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Critical Skills needed by Anthropologists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Anthropologists frequently use skills like writing, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Anthropologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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