Career as an Anthropologist- A Guide to Career Opportunities


Where do you imagine an Anthropologist working? 

Maybe in some far-off land, under the hot scorching sun studying the extinct civilizations/cultures or trying to find evidence of life 2000 meters down the ocean. 

And while this might be true, these are not the only place they work. Just for a little fun, guess whether an Anthropologist would do the following kind of fun: 

  1. Do you think Anthropologists help corporations understand how people’s identities play a role while they are using any social media platform? 
  2. Do you think anthropologists worked on a project that involved constructing a building on the ground that was a burial site thousand years ago? 
  3. Do you think Anthropologists can form a group and study what kind of social relationships emerge in the workplace? 
  4. Do you think an Anthropologist helps in providing closure to the families of wrongly convicted individuals years after they have passed by studying their remains? 

Which ones did you guess as a work of an Anthropologist? Okay, not taking much of your time, all of them are true to the work of an Anthropologist. I don’t know about you, but when I read this, it was all very fascinating to me since a field like anthropology is so misunderstood. So if I get a choice to change my career, I would definitely want to give Anthropology a try. Read further to know more about a career as an Anthropologist, the various job roles, how you can become one, and much more! 

What does an Anthropologist do? 

Depending on the anthropologist’s area of expertise, tasks can differ substantially. However, the nature of the job in terms of the skills required remains the same. The following are the different tasks that an Anthropologist undertakes: 

What does an Anthropologist do?
Just some humour for your career!
  • Some anthropologists look into and examine human remains to learn about their ancestry and way of life. 
  • Some also study the languages that are spoken now in a given society and how those languages have evolved over time. 
  • Additionally, some anthropologists research and observe cultures in various geographical and economic contexts. 
  • Finally, the study of objects, jewellery, pottery, or even tools that an archaeologist may have uncovered is what most people associate with anthropology. Every anthropologist gathers, examines, and makes inferences from these facts.

Job Roles for an Anthropologist 

Depending on the kind of work they do (the section we just saw), there are various titles that are given to archaeologists which talk about their specialized training. Additionally, there are certain roles that anthropologists from any specialization can do. Some of the most common job roles include the following: 

  • Medical Researcher:

Subject to the area of employment- say a hospital, government organization, or a forensic lab, the job role of a medical researcher for an Anthropology major will involve researching the effect that social and cultural factors have on human diseases and healthcare systems. 

  • Consultant:

Since anthropologists are trained to comprehend culture they can help an organization examine its messaging, its personnel, its communication strategies, and the basic foundation of that culture. Even if many of the company’s traditions were developed in person and its workforce now works mostly from home, an anthropological consultant can nonetheless formalize and communicate it.

  • Forensic Investigator:

The understanding of osteology and the variations found in the human skeleton is one of the key techniques forensic anthropologists use to identify remains. Anthropologists are sometimes faced with determining a person’s sex, stature, age, and ancestry throughout an investigation.

  • Professor:

The most commonly chosen career for an Anthropologist major is that of a college professor. Their roles involve teaching a class, counselling a student, researching social interactions, human origins, or other civilizations, evaluating papers, or creating lesson plans.

  • Museum Curator:

An Anthropologist as a curator gathers, preserves, studies, and displays items in museums. They collaborate with a variety of groups, including researchers, visitors to the museum, and source communities, and study the different intangible cultural assets. 

Career Paths to becoming an Anthropologist 

There are two paths to becoming an Anthropologist. The choice to be made depends on the availability of the course in the colleges and the kind of other subjects you are interested in during your degree. 

  • PATH 1: With Arts/Humanities as a stream: 

One of the ways that you can become an Anthropologist is by choosing humanities in your 11th and 12th grades. Subjects like sociology, history, geography, and psychology will aid you in your overall development in the field. 

Post 12th you can pursue the three-year undergraduate program in B.A. Anthropology. It examines the science of social interaction and human behaviour. A thorough examination of sociocultural, biological, linguistic, and archaeological science is presented. While enrolled in this course, students get the opportunity to learn about topics like archaeology, gerontology, social and cultural change, Indian society and culture, etc. 

You can choose to work directly after your bachelor’s. Students who successfully complete this course will be qualified to work as archaeologists, tour guides, curators, or managers in museums in both the public and private sectors. They could perhaps pursue a career in teaching or do more research.

You can also choose to go for higher education like an M.A. in Anthropology which will provide you with a specialization of your interest. Research work or a dissertation will be the major focus of the degree. 

  • PATH 2: With Science as a Stream: 

Someone who is more inclined towards subjects of Science can pursue this path. You can choose the PCB combination in your 11th and 12th grade followed by a three-year Bachelor’s program in B.Sc. anthropology. 

It addresses themes linked to the parallels and discrepancies in human behaviour. It covers a variety of human traits including those related to culture, organizations, and biology. Anthropology includes the study of topics including Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, and Archaeological Anthropology. The additional subject of biology helps students understand the anatomy and physiology of bones, genes, etc. of the human body which is the core of the subject of anthropology. 

After graduation, you can work in similar areas like in a museum or in research organizations. The other option is to pursue higher studies like an M.Sc in Anthropology. With a focus on subjects like biochemical genetics, primate behaviour, serology, dermatoglyphics, biostatistics, etc, it differs in the approach taken to understand humans. 

To get complete information on how to become an Anthropologist, check out this blog. And be ready to get a reaction like this:

Salary in different stages of Career as an Anthropologist 

Since the role of an anthropologist is very diverse in nature, the salary figures also vary a lot. Depending on the kind of role, and the company you work for (governmental or Corporations), the payment differs. Additionally, entry-level jobs in Anthropology are not as lucrative as compared in other fields. However, with experience one can expect to earn more with different sources of income. 

A career-wise salary plan is provided below. However, this is just an estimation of the average salary you can expect to gain: 

Career Level Entry level Mid Career Experienced Career 
Average Salary/ year 2-3 LPA 3-4 LPA 4 LPA and above 

Skills required to become an Anthropologist 

  1. Communication 

Good communication skills may be required when researching and conducting interviews with community people. Anthropologists might need to make sure the community comprehends the surveys and questions they are asking. You can develop your communication abilities by practising effective communication techniques and by participating in skill-building seminars.

  1. Organization skills: 

An anthropologist might work on numerous papers and conduct extensive research on diverse cultures. When anthropologists are researching multiple cultures or subjects, having strong organisational abilities might be helpful. Being more organised can be achieved through setting goals, making plans, and managing your time.

  1. Adaptability

It may be advantageous for anthropologists to be adaptable because they can work in many different scientific fields. An anthropologist can modify their existing research to ensure its relevance because research studies continue to yield fresh facts and findings. You can become more adaptive by trying out new techniques, picking up tips from others, and going through novel experiences.

  1. Observation of details

Anthropologists research wide subjects that may contain a tonne of data. An anthropologist can gain new insights into ancient societies by paying close attention to the details. For instance, a tiny piece of artwork may be able to shed light on the culture of the past while investigating an ancient piece of pottery. Your ability to pay attention to detail might be enhanced by organising yourself and exercising your brain with logic games.

Archeology student's realization is a must.
The skills required to become an Anthropologist are a different things- but this realization is a must!
  1. Technical writing

An important component of anthropology is presenting data obtained through research. Accurately presenting research findings might be vital because scientific documents and research publications can be difficult to produce. Typically, there are stringent formatting requirements. When pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in anthropology, technical writing courses are frequently offered.

  1. Knowing additional languages: 

When performing in-depth research on civilizations, anthropologists may find it helpful to be multilingual. An anthropologist who specialises in ancient Greek culture, for instance, is likely to speak some of their dialects. Although it can take a lot of time and perseverance to learn a language, there are skill workshops and educational courses you can enrol in that might be of assistance.

Is being an Anthropologist a good career option? 

Being an Anthropology student comes with a lot of challenges considering that it is a lesser-known field of study. Additionally, in India people are not yet aware of it as a good career option. However, this does not mean that you will not be hired. But it does mean that there are fewer opportunities that involve work that is directly related to anthropology. The most lucrative career option after your graduation is to get into teaching or research work – which is also paid well and will help you pay your bills. 

However, don’t be disheartened. The additional knowledge gained from studying anthropology is useful in a variety of professions- like archaeologist, palaeontologist, ethnologist, or primatologist, ultimately increasing the chance of interesting job roles for you. 

Type of Industries hiring for an Anthropologist, 

To be honest, anthropologists can work in any field where there are humans, meaning literally anywhere. However, the most common industries that hire anthropologists are: 

Whichever industry you go to, be ready to be a 'Stalker'.
Whichever industry you go to, be ready to be a ‘Stalker’.
  • Education 
  • Government organizations 
  • Marketing agencies 
  • Human Resource agencies 
  • Forensic 
  • Non-governmental organizations 
  • Health-care 
  • Tourism 
  • Law/Criminal Justice 
  • Public Health-care 
  • Historical museums 
  • Social work 
  • Community organizations 
  • Policy-making 
  • Professional associations 

Top Recruiters for an Anthropologist in India 

Some of the areas where you can work as an Anthropologist include: 

  • Museums 
  • Research Centres 
  • Archaeological sites 
  • Universities 
  • Heritage centres 
  • Art Galleries 
  • Market Research companies 
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Governmental organisations 

Other than these WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF are the top recruiters for anthropologists. In India, the Archeological Survey of India also works with a lot of anthropologists. 

Courses to Up-skill as an Anthropologist 

You can enrol in several online courses to get a feel for the subject – either if you are unsure whether you would like a career in anthropology or as a means to upskill yourself. Following your completion of grade 10, you can try the following courses:

Certificate Courses Institute offering the course Duration 
Miracles of human knowledge: An introduction to Linguistics University of Leiden 1-3 Months 
Osteoarchaeology: The truth in our Bones University of Leiden 1-3 Months 
CitiesX: The Past, present and future of Urban Life Harvard University through edX 11 Weeks 
Anthropology of Current World Leaders University of Queensland through edX9 Weeks 
Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artefacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You University of Harvard through edX10 Weeks 
Friendship machine: forming a new type of human connectionsedX5 Weeks 

Qualifications to become an Anthropologists 

As with any other profession, an Anthropologist requires schooling along with an undergraduate course with majors in Anthropology. 

This is just not the meme, but the real options you can choose from.
Source– This is just not the meme, but the real options you can choose from.

Degrees in India 

It is best to pursue Anthropology as a subject of major. However, if you are already pursuing B.A. in subjects like sociology, or history, or B.Sc. in subjects like palaeontology or archaeology, it is possible for you to gain a job as an anthropologist. 

UG Degrees: 

Some of the undergraduate courses that you can pursue to become an Anthropologist in India are: 

Undergraduate Courses Duration 
B.A. in Anthropology 3 Years 
B.Sc in Anthropology 3 Years 

PG Courses: 

Some of the post-graduate courses that you can pursue to become an Anthropologist in India include: 

Undergraduate Course Duration 
M.A. in Anthropology 2 Years 
M.Sc in Anthropology 2 Years 

Degrees Abroad 

Some of the undergraduate courses that you can pursue to become an Anthropologist abroad include a BA Hons in Anthropology, a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, and Bachelor of Science in Anthropology. All these courses are 4 years long. However, you must check the country and course duration before applying. 

Some of the higher study options to become an Anthropologist include degrees like M.A. in Anthropology, M.A. In Anthropological Research, M.A. in Visual Anthropology, M.A. in Social Anthropology, MA in Sociocultural Anthropology. These courses are usually 9 months-2 years long. 

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Entry into these courses will require you to give language proficiency test scores of IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, SATs, etc along with an SOP (Statement of Purpose) and LORs (Letter of Recommendation). Want some help with SATs? We have got you covered. Read this blog to know more!

Want to know more? Check these references: 

  • Book: Sapien – A Brief History of Human Kind- by Yuval Noah Harari 
  • Movie- The Anthropologist, Kitchen Stories, and Amish Grace 
  • People you should know: Ulf Hannerz, Marshall Sahlins, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, David Graeber, Marcia C. Inhorn

Thus, it takes a lot of perseverance and effort to become an anthropologist. You’ll have the chance to visit numerous locations and museums as well. If you enjoy engaging with diverse individuals, living in numerous cultures and societies can be exciting. Your progress will be fueled by your curiosity. I’m hoping that this knowledge inspires you to study anthropology. I wish you the best!

FAQs- Frequently asked questions about Anthropologist 

Is anthropology a lucrative profession in India?

An anthropologist can begin their career in a variety of fields, including higher education, government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business, healthcare, and human services. Other employers for these graduates include private companies, non-profit organisations, museums, independent research institutions, service organisations, and the media.

What credentials are required to become an anthropologist?

The majority of practising anthropologists hold anthropology master’s degrees or higher. After spending four years in college and receiving a bachelor’s degree, it usually takes two years to obtain a master’s degree. If you wish to teach, most schools and universities will require that you have a doctorate.

Do you allow anthropology after 12th grade?

After finishing their 10+2 schooling, students can enrol in a three-year Undergraduate (UG) program in anthropology. Candidates with a humanities background who passed their class 12 board exam (or for that matter, any background student) may choose this subject.

Do anthropologists work for the government?

One of the biggest non-academic employers of anthropologists is the federal government. International development, the administration of cultural resources, the legislative branch, forensic and physical anthropology, natural resource management, and the defence and security industries are all potential career pathways.

A BA or a B.Sc. in anthropology?

Both a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Anthropology are awarded to anthropology undergraduates. The two degrees’ structural differences account for their differences in content.

Does anthropology demand mathematics?

There is no maths course requirement for the Anthropology – Biocultural Concentration or the Anthropology/Biology BA. However, taking chemistry courses with maths prerequisites is a requirement for students who want to complete this major.

How long does anthropology take?

Although degree programs vary, anthropology bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to complete. Some undergraduates choose to enrol in graduate school, while others go out and look for careers after receiving their BA in anthropology.

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