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To see videos about careers in anthropology, visit the PCC Library: Careers in Anthropology page.

Where do anthropologists work?

Anthropologists can be found in corporations, all levels of government, educational institutions, and non-profit associations. Anthropologists work in disaster areas, including Ground Zero in New York and the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Today there are four main career paths for anthropology graduates:

Corporate and business careers

Many corporations look explicitly for anthropologists, recognizing the utility of their perspective on a corporate team. A corporate anthropologist working in market research might conduct targeted focus groups to examine consumer preference patterns not readily apparent through statistical or survey methods. These anthropologists use their research skills to talk to consumers and users of technology to find out how products and services could be improved to better meet the needs of consumers.

Government careers

State and local governmental organizations use anthropologists in planning, research, and managerial capacities. Cultural Resources Management, or contract archaeology, employs nearly 98% of all archaeologists in North America and is based in state and federal legislative mandates to assess cultural resources affected by government-funded projects. Forensic anthropologists, in careers glamorized by Hollywood and popular novels, not only work with police departments to help identify mysterious or unknown remains but also work in university and museum settings.

The federal government is one of the largest employers of anthropologists outside of academia. Possible career paths include international development, cultural resource management, the legislative branch, forensic and physical anthropology, natural resource management, and defense and security sectors.

Non-profit and community-based careers

Non-governmental organizations, such as international health organizations and development banks employ anthropologists to help design and implement a wide variety of programs. However, these aren’t the only opportunities available.

Many anthropologists work in local, community-based settings for non-profit agencies. Sometimes, they work through community-based research organizations like the Institute for Community Research. Other times, they might work for established organizations in a community like the YMCA, local schools, or environmental organizations.

The American Anthropological Association surveyed anthropology graduates and found that most hold positions in the following areas:

  • Education and outreach
  • Administration and management
  • Archaeology
  • Ethnography and cultural anthropology
  • Cultural resources management (CRM)
  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Historic preservation
  • Health (international and public health)
  • Museums, curation, and project design
  • Environment and natural resources
  • Community development
  • Business advocacy (human rights and social justice)
  • Tourism and heritage
  • Human or social services
  • Healthcare management, services, or delivery
  • Computers, software development, and information technology
  • Design (products and services)
  • Social impact assessment
  • International development and affairs
  • Market research
  • Forensics
  • Law criminal justice, and law enforcement
  • Mass communication
  • Humanitarian efforts
  • Management consulting, organizational development, and training

These data are from the American Anthropological Association’s website.

Professional organizations and associations

Below are links to Anthropology and Archaeology professional organizations and associations. Each contains “jobs” or “employment” links so that you can start thinking about your future career in anthropology.