Anthropologist: Duties & Salary

Gina L | August 16, 2009

Anthropologists are social scientists who provide insight into diverse civilizations throughout the history of the world. Their education qualifies them for the job of deciphering and interpreting artifacts and ancient languages of past cultures. An anthropologist’s work helps us to understand the present by taking a step back into the past. Through analysis of past human civilization, they began to understand modern civilizations a little more. This is a career where there’s never a dull moment. A wealth of career opportunities await future anthropologists at a variety of organizations, from teaching to museums.

What does an anthropologist do?
As an anthropologist, you study the origin as well as the physical, social, cultural development, and behavior of humans. This is done by studying ways of life, archaeological remains, language, and physical characteristics of people throughout the world. Customs, values, and social habits are also examined. The main areas a social-cultural anthropologist will focus on are the customs, cultures, and social lives of particular groups in settings such as unindustrialized societies and modern urban centers.

A linguistics anthropologist examines language’s role and changes to language over periods of time, while biophysical anthropologists study the evolution of the human body, locate earliest evidence of human life, and research the influence of biology and culture on each other.

Physical anthropologists study human remains at archaeological sites in the hopes of understanding population demographics and other factors that may have affected civilization, including nutrition and disease.

Anthropologists usually specialize in a particular area of the world.

How much are anthropologists paid and what kinds of anthropology jobs can I get?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an anthropologist’s median salary was $49,930 in 2006. Salaries may differ throughout the country and have the potential to be higher in some areas. This field will experience average growth of about 15 percent between 2006 and 2016. Job growth will come in the form of management, scientific, and technical consulting services. Those holding positions as consultants will use anthropological knowledge and skills to solve a myriad of problems including economic development issues and forensics.

Those employed as social scientists for the federal government holding bachelor’s degrees and no experience were able to attain starting salaries of $28,862 or $35,572, depending on their college records. Those with master’s degrees could start at $43,731, while PhD holders began at $52,912. Some advanced degree holders were able to receive a starting salary of $63,417. All of these beginning salaries depend on the region in which you are employed.

People looking for careers in social science disciplines will face competition for jobs, so having attained a higher educational level will give you access to the best opportunities. There are also opportunities as university professors and teachers in secondary schools.

Other related occupations are economists, market and survey researchers, psychologists, and urban and regional planners. Social scientists often conduct surveys, examine social problems, teach, and work in museums; the same skill sets can be used by statisticians, counselors, social workers, teachers, archivists, curators, and museum technicians.

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