How do I Get a Job with a Degree in Anthropology?
You’re working hard to complete your degree in anthropology. You’re enjoying your classes, exploring interesting topics in new ways, and making lasting friends who share your passion for the holistic, comparative study of humans. Yet persistent questions nag at you: What am I going to do next? What’s the job I can land with this degree?
Many students in Colleges of Liberal Arts & Sciences ask themselves the same questions, particularly as graduation looms near. To answer these questions, first know that a College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is not a trade school. The curriculum in a College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is designed to produce graduates who possess a broad knowledge base and sharpened communication, research, and critical thinking skills—the necessary ingredients for making well-informed, well-reasoned decisions as you participate in society.
This is what you’re selling to prospective employers… but so are the philosophy majors, the history majors, the math majors, and so on. The challenge for all college students is to determine how they can gain employment not necessarily in their major but using their major—that is, using the topical knowledge and skills they developed in their major.
What sets you apart as an Anthropology major?
What is it about an anthropology degree that sets you apart from other graduates of a College of Liberal Arts & Sciences? Anthropology students graduate with useful “people skills” in at least two senses of the phrase:
Anthropology graduates have the skills to study people.
Anthropology graduates have the skills to study people—skills to identify a research problem, collect relevant data, analyze and interpret that data, and communicate the results of the analysis orally and in writing. In other words, anthropologists have the skills to solve people problems—and in fields like public relations, marketing, management, and social service, all problems are, at some level, people problems.
Anthropology graduates have the skills to effectively interact with people.
Because of the comparative, holistic perspective anthropologists take, they tend to develop the humility and compassion to cultivate mutual understanding as they engage with people who are different from themselves. In other words, anthropologists have the skills to foster an amicable, respectful workplace environment in which people of many different backgrounds and life experiences can effectively work together.
The broad knowledge base and “soft skills” of a liberal arts and sciences program, combined with the “people skills” of an anthropologist, make an attractive candidate for many jobs—even more so when paired with relevant technical skills (e.g., computer programming; business administration; data analysis and management; communication design and marketing).
What can I do with a degree in Anthropology?
Most people with degrees in anthropology do not work as anthropologists. Instead, they draw on anthropological knowledge and skills to work in a wide range of non-academic settings, including as research scientists in a variety of field and laboratory settings; public relations specialists; statisticians; market research analysts and consultants; management analysts and consultants; and community and social service managers and counselors. A recent search on indeed using "anthropology" as a keyword yielded several job opportunities. A few examples follow.
Park Ranger, National Park Service
Perform a variety of interpretive, educational, and visitor service functions, including: developing and conducting formal tours, educational programs, demonstrations, and presentations interpreting the park’s natural and cultural resources; assisting with visitor center operations; community outreach; maintenance of displays/exhibits.
Consumer & Market Knowledge Manager, Procter & Gamble
Act as a business strategy consultant, ensuring that consumer and shopper analytics and insights are the foundations of business strategy and execution. Requires immersive research using big data sources and analytics to identify key business drivers and assess the impact of investments like advertising and in-store promotions.
International Affairs Specialist, United States Department of Agriculture
Provide international relations guidance in maneuvering, formulating, executing, and evaluating mutually-beneficial international agricultural research collaborations with domestic and foreign agencies and institutions.
User Experience Researcher, Google
Conduct primary research (including field visits, ethnography, surveys, and usability tests) to explore the behaviors and motivations of Google users. This research aims to cultivate understanding and empathy of user needs, and inform improvement of existing products and development of new products and features.
Intensive Case Manager, Behavioral Health Specialist Initiative
Coordinate formal treatment and provide support to individuals who are uninsured, underinsured, or otherwise vulnerable, including individuals who are chronically homeless, suffering from psychiatric disorders, or seeking to recover from substance abuse disorders.
Career Counselor, Philadelphia Job Corps Center
Plan, coordinate, and implement a counseling program for students from disadvantaged populations to help them earn academic and technical training credentials, practice habits for healthy lives, and obtain and keep good jobs.
Interpretive Planner, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Research and develop content for exhibitions at the Penn Museum. Design and conduct visitor studies and exhibit evaluations. Mentor students through the process of creating exhibitions.
As you explore internship and job opportunities, the following links may prove useful:
- Professional Associations
- Bureau of Land Management
- Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- National Park Service Anthropology Division
- Peace Corps
- US African Development Foundation
- Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
- US Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs
- US Bureau of Reclamation
- US Bureau of the Census
- US Department of Agriculture
- US Department of Education
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- US Indian Health Services
- USDA Forest Service
Private and International Links
- American Friends Service Committee
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
- American Museum of Natural History
- American Near East Refugee Aid
- Archaeological Conservancy
- Asia Foundation
- Brookings Institution
- Carter Center
- Catholic Relief Services
- Cato Institute
- Center for Applied Linguistics
- Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Center for World Indigenous Studies
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
- ChildFund International
- Cultural Survival
- Development Group for Alternative Policies
- Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
- Field Museum
- Ford Foundation
- General Motors
- D. Howe Institute
- Hudson Institute
- Independent Institute
- Institute for Policy Innovation
- International Center for Research on Women
- International Fund for Agricultural Development
- International Monetary Fund
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
- Jane Goodall Institute
- Lutheran World Relief
- Organization of American States
- Oxfam International
- Oxfam America
- Population Research Institute
- Rockefeller Foundation
- Rural Policy Research Institute
- Sierra Club
- Sister Cities International
- United Nations
- World Bank
- World Health Organization
- World Wildlife Fund
Last but not least, Kutztown University's Career Development Center has a number of resources to assist students in exploring and preparing for possible career paths in Anthropology.