Employment Prospects


The U.S. Department of Labor reports there are about 6,500 anthropologists and archeologists working in the United States. Traditionally, most anthropologists have worked as professors for colleges, universities, and community colleges, or as curators for museums. But these numbers are changing. The American Anthropological Association estimates that 50 percent of its members now work outside academe in such diverse areas as social service programs, health organizations, city planning departments, and marketing departments of corporations. Others work for architectural and construction firms, to make sure that building sites are cleared of any material of archaeological interest, and others work for research institutions. Some also work as consultants or are "independent scholars" supporting themselves by working in other industries. 

Starting Out

The most promising way to gain entry into these occupations is through graduate school. Graduates in anthropology might be approached prior to graduation by prospective employers. Often, professors will provide students with introductions as well as recommendations. Students may have an opportunity to work as a research assistant or a teaching fellow while in graduate school; frequently this experience is of tremendous help in qualifying for a job in another institution.

Internships are another great way to gain experience. These internship opportunities may be available through the anthropology graduate program, or students may have to seek them out themselves. Many organizations can benefit from the help of an anthropology student; health centers, government agencies, and environmental groups all conduct research.

Advancement Prospects

Because of the relatively small size of this field, advancement is not likely to be fast, and the opportunities for advancement may be somewhat limited. Most people beginning their teaching careers in colleges or universities will start as instructors and eventually advance to assistant professor, associate professor, and possibly full professor. Researchers on the college level have an opportunity to head research areas and to gain recognition among colleagues as an expert in many areas of study.

Anthropologists employed in museums also have an opportunity to advance within the institution in terms of raises in salary or increases in responsibility and job prominence. Those anthropologists working outside academia and museums will be promoted according to the standards of the individual companies and organizations for which they work.

Tips for Entry

The American Anthropological Association offers links to organizations that offer internships, as well as a career center, at its Web site, Additionally, the Society for Applied Anthropology provides job listings at its Web site,

Subscribe to the Chronicle of Higher Education ( to learn about trends in higher education and to access job listings.

Visit the American Anthropological Association's resource, This is Anthropology, at to learn more about careers in the field.

Read publications such as Anthropology News, Human Biology, and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology to learn more about the field.