What Can I Do with an Anthropology Degree?

Nov 6, 2019

What comes to mind when you think of anthropology? Dr. Goodall and her chimpanzees? Well, anthropology does encompass her incredible life and studies, but the true beauty of the field is how much MORE it touches. An anthropology degree can offer you multiple, rewarding career paths after you graduate.  

Let’s take a step back and clearly define this often-misunderstood degree. Anthropology is the study of human societies, cultures, and their development. It helps us uncover meaning, and apply to our modern world the history and impact of relationships, social hierarchies and structures, gender roles throughout history, and even specific roles in the workplace.  

You may be reading this article because this field of study already intrigues you. But you’re wondering, ‘What can I do with an anthropology degree?’ 

Quite a lot, as it turns out. As anthropology is essentially the study of why people behave the way they do, many career tracks would be enriched with this unique understanding of what makes us human.  

What skills will I gain with an anthropology major?

A student with a major in anthropology will study different groups of people in various environments and cultures, using tools to analyze the behavior and behavioral dynamics within each group. This can include finding specific and generalized predictions of patterns of behavior that apply to leadership, critical thinking, group and individual skills, as well as roles in a community or group.

A degree in anthropology will provide you with an abundance of skills that increase your marketability in our ever-shifting workplace. A few of the common skills obtained from an anthropology degree include:

  • data analysis and interpretation
  • logical and independent thinking
  • quantitative and qualitative observation techniques
  • written and oral communication
  • effective presentation organization and delivery
  • discussion and group work skills
  • cultural sensitivity and awareness

Many graduates pursue careers in the nonprofit sector, while others explore further education in law school. Some students who graduate with a degree in anthropology use their skills to help develop technology, apps, tools, and software for businesses, colleges, and workplaces–maximizing user experience in understanding people and analyzing data to enhance business processes and individual performance. An interesting tidbit, Microsoft is reportedly one of the largest employers of anthropologists in the world. In fact, large organizations are increasingly hiring anthropologists as the trend of globalization continues to accelerate.  

Any industry dealing with people and how they act, perform, socialize, or work will benefit from this type of degree program. Those with a keen curiosity for human culture and diversity in history will find new ways to think and grow in roles that are obtained through their training in anthropology. 

Ten of the Top Jobs for Anthropology Majors

Nonprofit Program Administrator (Domestic and International)

Nonprofit program administrators direct and coordinate the services of the organization. In this role, a student who has graduated with a degree in anthropology will use their problem-solving and organization skills in creative ways to develop and implement programs that will benefit the lives of different groups of people from a variety of cultures. Cultural competence, the ability to understand and relate to other social groups and cultures, is exceptionally important in nonprofits and has a direct impact on the success and impact of the organization’s efforts.

Foreign Language Teacher

A traveling or foreign language teacher working abroad will benefit from a degree in anthropology, as teaching a foreign language generally means you will need to learn and adopt the culture of either your new locale or the culture from which the language has been derived. Teachers of a foreign language will also teach and speak about the culture their students are learning.

These small, subtle pieces of culturally significant information will set up their students for success when they go out into the world. Many foreign language teachers also benefit from the organizational aspects of an anthropology degree and are able to fulfill the love for traveling many students possess in this degree niche.

Ambassador or Foreign-Service Officer

As a representative of the United States, anthropology graduates who achieve this occupation are able to immerse themselves in the culture they are serving as well as their home country at the same time.

An ambassador or foreign-service officer must know and understand the structure of government in both countries, while also adopting a keen understanding of social structures and citizens of the countries they are serving.

Human Resources

A Human Resources Representative helps other employees understand their roles within a company and the greater workforce.

Responsible for training, productivity, creativity, and enforcing rules and regulations, an HR representative with an anthropology degree will undoubtedly need to work with multiple groups in order to create peace and productivity in the workplace. A student honing their intrapersonal skills will thrive in an HR career.

Attorney

Lawyers who practice immigration law, international law, human rights, and any other social or workplace law niche benefit from a degree in anthropology. Because they know and understand how different groups outside their culture socialize, work, and act. Advocating for these groups through their learned studies makes for an excellent attorney.

Likewise, writing and research skills will assist an attorney advocating for special groups and special interests. After graduation, a prospective lawyer will need to attend a graduate program to receive a degree in law.

Translator or Interpreter

Much like a foreign language teacher, an interpreter or translator will work with various cultures and sub-groups to translate and bring forth messages and directions from one language to another. This applies to sign language, foreign language, and written language.

Students who have worked on their communication and observation skills through their anthropology program will thrive in this career.

Museum Curator or Art Gallery Professional

The study of lost cultures or cultures from another point in history is very specialized and important for jobs in any city or region across the world. In order to understand the art or artifacts presented in a museum or gallery, the graduate must have an acute understanding of the past and the culture from which the artifacts are sourced.

This position is also beneficial for an anthropology major, as representatives in these workplaces must have interpersonal skills and a knack for effective and clear communication.

Media Planner or Data Scientist

A media planner studies the lifestyle and media preferences of different consumer groups and social structures in order to plan and execute proper advertising. Data scientists perform statistical analysis and data mining on large amounts of data to identify trends and patterns and to establish relationships.

A media planner must know how to market to and entice their audience based on their social background or demographic. A data scientist will use his or her skills in analyzing and interpreting data to help organizations identify new opportunities and quickly respond to emerging trends.

Social Media Marketing and Digital Marketing

Social media and digital marketing have taken the workforce by storm, and for good reason–they’re where the majority of targeted advertising takes place. Social media marketers will target branded content and design to various groups on social media platforms like Facebook.

Both careers are especially ideal for those who achieve a degree in anthropology because the science behind why and how people buy products makes a marketer more desirable. These behavior patterns– although ever-changing–are often similar throughout human history.

Public Health Care and Healthcare Specialists

Public health is a growing industry due to the increasing age of baby boomers. Now more than ever, public healthcare specialists are needed to educate patients and the public on programs and opportunities to increase awareness around health and services provided for different groups.

Whether you are thinking about obtaining your anthropology degree in order to study immigration law or are dying to go into the digital marketing space, a degree in this field is incredibly beneficial and opens up a world of career possibilities.  

Find out more about an Anthropology degree and how it can align with your interests and lead to a rewarding career!

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