Anthropologists


Requirements

Education and Training Requirements

High School

Follow your high school's college prep program to be prepared for undergraduate and graduate programs in anthropology. You should study English composition and literature to develop your writing and interpretation skills. Foreign language skills will also help you in later research and language study. Take classes in computers and classes in sketching, simple surveying, and photography to prepare for some of the demands of fieldwork. Mathematics and science courses can help you develop the skills you'll need in analyzing information and statistics. Other important classes include social studies, history, biology, and chemistry.

Postsecondary Training

You should be prepared for a long training period beyond high school. You will first need to earn a bachelor’s degree, and then go on to earn advanced degrees. More than 350 colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. Before beginning graduate work, you will study such basic courses as psychology, sociology, history, geography, mathematics, logic, English composition, and literature, as well as modern and ancient languages. The final two years of the undergraduate program will provide an opportunity for specialization not only in anthropology but in some specific phase of the discipline.

More anthropologists are finding jobs with only master's degrees, but most of the better positions in anthropology will require a doctorate, which entails about four to six years of work beyond the bachelor's degree. You'll need a doctorate in order to join the faculty of college and university anthropology programs. The American Association of Physical Anthropologists offers a list of graduate programs in anthropology at its Web site, http://www.physanth.org/career/graduate-programs/. A list of colleges and universities that offer degrees in applied anthropology is available at the Society for Applied Anthropology’s Web site, https://www.sfaa.net/index.php/resources/education/.

Students planning to become physical anthropologists should concentrate on the biological sciences. A wide range of interdisciplinary study in languages, history, and the social sciences, as well as the humanities, is particularly important in cultural anthropology, including the areas of linguistics and ethnology. Independent field study also is done in these areas.

In starting graduate training, you should select an institution that has a good program in the area in which you hope to specialize. This is important, not only because the training should be of a high quality, but because most graduates in anthropology will receive their first jobs through their graduate universities.

Assistantships and temporary positions may be available to holders of bachelor's or master's degrees, but are usually available only to those working toward a doctorate.

Other Education or Training

The American Anthropological Association offers a variety of workshops, seminars, and other continuing education opportunities. Examples include "Getting An Article Published In a Peer-Reviewed Journal," "Geographic Information Systems & Cultural Anthropology," "Using Social Media As A Tool for Ethnographic Researchers," and "Anthropology Graduates: From Student to Career." The Society for Applied Anthropology, American Association of Anthropological Genetics, and American Association of Physical Anthropologists also provide continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for anthropologists.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Obtaining experience as a research assistant or a teaching fellow in grad school is highly recommended.

To be a successful anthropologist, you must be able to work as part of a team, as well as conduct research entirely on your own. Because much of your career will involve study and research, you should have great curiosity and a desire for knowledge. You should also have respect for other cultures because you'll be interacting closely with people with diverse backgrounds.