How Do I Start a Career in Anthropology?

Amy Rodriguez
Amy Rodriguez
Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.
Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.

Starting a career in anthropology requires early preparation by choosing specific college classes during the undergraduate years, such as a foreign language and statistics. You should also plan to obtain a graduate degree in anthropology so you can apply to more diverse scientific positions compared to an undergraduate. In addition, you may want to choose a particular concentration within anthropology, like physical or cultural aspects, for a more refined education.

Archaeology uses volunteers more than many other scientific pursuits, both in the field and in the lab.
Archaeology uses volunteers more than many other scientific pursuits, both in the field and in the lab.

Your main undergraduate degree goal should be in anthropology. Typical science courses can include archaeology and sociology; however, a number of related courses need to be taken to enhance your understanding of the world as a whole. It is good practice to learn at least one foreign language well, especially if your goal is to work overseas. Mathematics, and especially statistics, is an important subject to grasp since many anthropology majors work with human population numbers on a consistent basis; statistics will help you analyze human culture and migration patterns over time.

Most undergraduates in anthropology can only work in low level positions, such as research aides or assistants. If you want to apply for higher positions in a university setting, a doctorate degree is required. This graduate degree will allow you to specialize within the anthropology subject with more classes and field work.

Each concentration within doctorate degree programs requires different classes. For example, cultural anthropologist concentrations should include classes on gender roles and language origination. A physical anthropologist may take classes that are more clinical in nature, such as anatomy and biology.

Another good start to an anthropologist career is volunteering for internships. Many colleges require internships as a graduation requirement; you can choose from a variety of locations and field work purposes for the best personal match. Some internships actually pay a small hourly fee so that you have a form of income while working at the location.

Networking with established anthropologists at an internship or in a college setting is a good way to enhance your future career outlook. You can take advantage of a professor's open office hours to discuss classroom subjects for a more personalized understanding. Working alongside professionals at an internship location allows you to discuss real life anthropology issues and create friendships that can benefit your future career.

If an internship is not possible, any hands-on experience as an anthropologist will help engage your career outlook. You can ask your professor if you could volunteer for weekend outings to local cultural and historical sites. Any extra effort is typically rewarded with future offerings from other professors or students.

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    • Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.
      By: Gail Johnson
      Megalithic sites like Stonehenge are often used to acquaint archaeology students with prehistory.
    • Archaeology uses volunteers more than many other scientific pursuits, both in the field and in the lab.
      By: Paco Ayala
      Archaeology uses volunteers more than many other scientific pursuits, both in the field and in the lab.