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What are the Different Anthropology Careers?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Anthropology is a huge field of study, and anthropology careers range from curating museum exhibits to working for advertising agencies. People who are interested in a career in anthropology should definitely think about which area of anthropology they are interested in before they start studying, as different anthropology programs provide training in different areas of this diverse field.

Roughly, anthropology careers can be divided into academic, government, corporate, and non-profit work. Academic work includes active research, instruction of anthropology students, and peer review of anthropological studies. Government work is quite varied, and can include the management of studies on behalf of the government, the examination of human remains for law enforcement agencies, and the study of minority communities within a larger nation. Anthropologists in the corporate sector turn their skills and training to use in commercial applications, providing consultation on topics ranging from archaeological excavation of building sites to how to run an advertising campaign. Non-profit work includes research, consultation for non-profit organizations, and promotion of anthropology to the world at large.

Anthropology is often broadly divided into physical, cultural, and archaeological branches. Each of these disciplines within anthropology is very broad, with anthropology careers being quite varied in each area.

Physical anthropology, also known as biological anthropology, studies on the physical study of the human body and its structures. Researchers in this field can study human evolution, physical variations between modern human populations, forensic anthropology, osteology, and a variety of related topics. Some examples of anthropology careers in this area of study can include: evolution researcher, pharmaceutical consultant, osteopathologist, and forensic odontologist.

Cultural anthropology involves the study of human cultures and societies, and it encompasses topics like linguistics, studies of minority populations, studies of social norms, and studies of specific types of social groups. Cultural anthropologists famously travel to remote locations to learn about tribal communities, but they also study a wide variety of other topics. People who are interested in how people think, behave, and view the world may be interested in cultural anthropology careers, whether they decide to help companies market products in new areas or to study human populations to learn more about them.

Careers in archeology can include site excavation, cataloging of archaeological materials, curating museums, and the study of ancient cultures. As can be seen, there is a great deal of overlap between these fields in anthropology; for example, an archaeologist studying the Egyptians might be interested in the pathology of disease in this human population, in which case he or she would be bridging the disciplines of physical anthropology and archeology, and would probably mix in some cultural anthropology to learn about the social factors which contributed to disease processes.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon304719 — On Nov 21, 2012

If you go into anthropology to help companies market products in new areas, do the world a favor and don't. That right there is a big part of what's wrong with the world -- well, with Western culture anyway.

Read, "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond and "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn to understand why.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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