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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beginner's Guide To A Career in Anthropology and Archeology

Guest Post By Brian Jenkins

Considering a Career in Anthropology and Archeology?

Are you interested in human history? Do you wonder where we came from and how we got here? If so, you might want to consider a career in either archaeology or anthropology. This article will give a detailed look at these career fields and help you decide if one of them is right for you.


Anthropologists study the origin of and cultural, social, and physical development of humans. They look at the traditions, values, beliefs, and possessions of people and societies throughout the world and create hypothesis based on their research. They typically specialize in physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, or linguistics.

Cultural anthropologists study the customs and behavior of a community's citizens. They evaluate various aspects of a society's lifestyle, including its religion, music, and how they take care of their senior citizens or elders. They gather information and attempt to make conclusions about a society's ways of life.

Physical anthropologists study the physical development of the human species. They examine how heredity and environment influence the structure of the human body. Some Physical anthropologists study the spatial distribution and trends of the physical characteristics of humans around the globe.

Linguistic anthropologists analyze the evolution of languages and the relationships between different languages. They attempt to explain how a community's language relates to the ways a society's citizens act and think.


Archeologists, on the other hand, attempt to discover the history, living habits, and customs of earlier human civilizations. They document, analyze, and interpret homes, clothing, tools, and art from ancient human civilizations. Archeologists often excavate objects from the ground and are sometimes asked to perform surveys when ground will be disturbed during digging projects. They work in labs, in the field, and in the classroom.

"In an essence, Archeologists gain knowledge of the past by studying materials representative of cultural groups across space and through time."~Ancient Digger

Responsibilities of Anthropologists and Archeologists

  • Develop and test theories regarding the origin and development of cultures from the past
  • Gather information and make judgments through interviews, observations, and by evaluating documents and papers
  • Compare findings among different sites to learn the similarities and differences between different people or different eras
  • Describe the physical properties of artifacts
  • Write, publish and present reports
  • Evaluate objects and structures and identify, date, and authenticate objects and interpret their significance
  • Write about research findings
  • Construct and test data gathering methods

Job Characteristics

Anthropologists and Archaeologists work in the field, in classroom settings, in laboratories, and in museums. Some jobs in anthropology require travel and being away from home for long periods of time.

Employment Outlook

The employment growth for anthropologists and archaeologists is projected to be much faster than the average for all occupations from 2008 to 2018. The median annual earnings in 2008 for anthropologists and archeologists was $53,910.

According to Payscale.com, the medium income for anthropologists in 2010 was 48,167 and archaeologists made $41,565. These numbers largely depend on the venue in which you are employed. Research and government work tend to pay a bit more. Consequently, the higher the degree the more the pay. These numbers reflect BA degrees in the field.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

A bachelor's degree in archaeology or anthropology is the minimum requirement for a job in either field. However, many employers prefer candidates that have a master's degree or a Ph.D. Many teaching positions in colleges and universities require a Ph.D.

Useful Online Resources

Major Employers of Anthropologists and Archeologists

The major employers are colleges, universities, museums, and government agencies.

This has been a lot of information about these exciting career fields, so let's hope it isn't too overwhelming! It should give you a solid foundation if you are considering pursuing one of these careers, so if you are, be sure to keep this information in mind.

Brian Jenkins is an expert on a number of career fields and writes feature articles for BrainTrack.


Payscale Archaeology
Payscale Anthropology

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