Anthropologists and Archeologists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Anthropologists and archeologists study the origin, development, and behavior of humans.

Work Environment: Anthropologists and archeologists typically work in research organizations, government, and consulting firms. Although most work in offices, some analyze samples in laboratories or do fieldwork. Fieldwork may require travel for extended periods.

How to Become One: Anthropologists and archeologists need a master’s degree or Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology. Experience doing fieldwork in either discipline is also important. Bachelor’s degree holders may find work as assistants or fieldworkers.

Salary: The median annual wage for anthropologists and archeologists is $62,410.

Job Outlook: Employment of anthropologists and archeologists is projected to grow 10 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Prospective anthropologists and archeologists will likely face strong competition for jobs because of the small number of positions relative to applicants.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of anthropologists and archeologists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as an anthropologist or archeologist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Anthropologist Jobs

  • Physical Anthropologist - ELOS Environmental, LLC - ,

    Physical Anthropologist to be present on-site for up to 10 days to monitor mechanized trenching and test exaction units Field assistance in assessment of a known push pile on-site suspected to ...

  • Tenure Track Faculty - Latin American Archaeology - California State University, Sacramento - Sacramento, CA

    Archaeology and Biological Anthropology ( ABA ); or General Anthropology (GA). The Department also houses the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeological Curation Facility that maintain extensive ...

  • Anthropologie Customer Associate - Washington - Anthropologie - Washington, District of Columbia

    Gains understanding of how merchant skills impact business and the customer experience BENEFITS As an Anthropologie employee, your health and well-being are among our highest priorities. We offer a ...

See all Anthropologist jobs

Top 3 Archeologist Jobs

  • Senior Archaeological Specialist - Aspen Environmental Group - ,

    D. in archaeology .Minimum of 8 years of supervisory or management experience in California CRM.RPA certification preferred.Expertise in California archaeology , and extensive understanding of CEQA ...

  • Tenure Track Faculty - Latin American Archaeology - California State University, Sacramento - Sacramento, CA

    Archaeology and Biological Anthropology ( ABA ); or General Anthropology (GA). The Department also houses the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeological Curation Facility that maintain extensive ...

  • Senior Archaeologist - Garcia & Associates - ,

    Garcia and Associates (GANDA) is seeking a Senior Archaeologist to oversee technical studies and related project permitting for public and private sector clients. The individual will assist in ...

See all Archeologist jobs

What Anthropologists and Archeologists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Anthropologists and archeologists study the origin, development, and behavior of humans. They examine the cultures, languages, archeological remains, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world.

Duties of Anthropologists and Archeologists

Anthropologists and archeologists typically do the following:

  • Plan cultural research
  • Customize data collection methods according to a particular region, specialty, or project
  • Collect information from observations, interviews, and documents
  • Record and manage records of observations taken in the field
  • Analyze data, laboratory samples, and other sources of information to uncover patterns about human life, culture, and origins
  • Prepare reports and present research findings
  • Advise organizations on the cultural impact of policies, programs, and products

By drawing and building on knowledge from the humanities and the social, physical, and biological sciences, anthropologists and archeologists examine the ways of life, languages, archeological remains, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world. They also examine the customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures.

Although the equipment used by anthropologists and archeologists varies by task and specialty, it often includes excavation and measurement tools, laboratory and recording equipment, statistical and database software, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Archeologists examine, recover, and preserve evidence of human activity from past cultures. They analyze human remains and artifacts, such as tools, pottery, cave paintings, and ruins of buildings. They connect their findings with information about past environments to learn about the history, customs, and living habits of people in earlier eras.

Archeologists also manage and protect archeological sites. Some work in national parks or at historical sites, providing site protection and educating the public. Others assess building sites to ensure that construction plans comply with federal regulations related to site preservation. Archeologists often specialize in a particular geographic area, period, or object of study, such as animal remains or underwater sites.

Anthropology is divided into three primary fields: biological or physical anthropology, cultural or social anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Biological and physical anthropologists study the changing nature of the biology of humans and closely related primates. Cultural anthropologists study the social and cultural consequences of various human-related issues, such as overpopulation, natural disasters, warfare, and poverty. Linguistic anthropology studies the history and development of languages.

A growing number of anthropologists perform market research for businesses, studying the demand for products by a particular culture or social group. Using their anthropological background and a variety of techniques—including interviews, surveys, and observations—they may collect data on how a product is used by specific demographic groups.

Many people with a Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology become professors or museum curators. For more information, see the profiles on postsecondary teachers, and archivists, curators, and museum technicians.

Work Environment for Anthropologists and Archeologists[About this section] [To Top]

Anthropologists and archeologists hold about 6,500 jobs. The largest employers of anthropologists and archeologists are as follows:

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 26%
Federal government, excluding postal service 23%
Research and development in the social sciences and humanities 21%
Engineering services 9%
Self-employed workers 2%

The work of anthropologists varies according to the specific job. Although most anthropologists work in offices, some analyze samples in laboratories or work in the field.

Archeologists often work for cultural resource management (CRM) firms. These firms identify, assess, and preserve archeological sites and ensure that developers and builders comply with regulations regarding those sites. Archeologists also work in museums, at historical sites, and for government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service.

Anthropologists and archeologists often do fieldwork, either in the United States or in foreign countries. Fieldwork may involve learning foreign languages, living in remote areas, and examining and excavating archeological sites. Fieldwork usually requires travel for extended periods—about 4 to 8 weeks per year. Those doing fieldwork often will have to return to the field for several years to complete their research.

During fieldwork, anthropologists and archeologists must live with the people they study to learn about their culture. The work can involve rugged living conditions and strenuous physical exertion. While in the field, anthropologists and archeologists often work many hours to meet research deadlines. They also may work with limited funding for their projects.

Anthropologist and Archeologist Work Schedules

Most anthropologists and archeologists work full time during regular business hours. When doing fieldwork, however, anthropologists and archeologists may be required to travel and to work many and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.

How to Become an Anthropologist or Archeologist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Anthropologists and Archeologists near you!

Anthropologists and archeologists need a master's degree or Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology. Experience doing fieldwork in either discipline is also important. Those with a bachelor's degree may find work as assistants or fieldworkers.

Find a Degree:


Education for Anthropologists and Archeologists

Most anthropologists and archeologists qualify for available positions with a master's degree in anthropology or archeology. The typical master's degree program takes 2 years to complete and includes field or laboratory research.

Anthropology and archeology students typically conduct field research during their graduate programs, often working abroad or doing community-based research. Many students also attend archeological field schools, which teach students how to excavate historical and archeological sites and how to record and interpret their findings and data.

Although a master's degree is enough for many positions, a Ph.D. may be needed for jobs that require leadership skills and advanced technical knowledge. Anthropologists and archeologists typically need a Ph.D. to work internationally in order to comply with the requirements of foreign governments. A Ph.D. takes additional years of study beyond a master's degree. Also, Ph.D. students must complete a doctoral dissertation, which typically includes between 18 and 30 months of field research and knowledge of a foreign language.

Those with a bachelor's degree in anthropology or archeology and work experience gained through an internship or field school can work as field or laboratory technicians or research assistants.

Other Experience for Anthropologists and Archeologists

Graduates of anthropology and archeology programs usually need experience in their respective fields and training in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Many students gain this experience through field training or internships with museums, historical societies, or nonprofit organizations while still in school.

Important Qualities for Anthropologists and Archeologists

Analytical skills. Anthropologists and archeologists must possess knowledge of scientific methods and data, which are often used in their research.

Critical-thinking skills. Anthropologists and archeologists must be able to draw conclusions from observations, laboratory experiments, and other methods of research. They must be able to combine various sources of information to try to solve problems and to answer research questions.

Communication skills. Anthropologists and archeologists often have to write reports or papers in academic journals and present their research and findings to their peers and to general audiences. These activities require strong writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Physical stamina. Anthropologists and archeologists working in the field may need to hike or walk several miles while carrying equipment to a research site.

Anthropologist and Archeologist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for anthropologists and archeologists is $62,410. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $97,170.

The median annual wages for anthropologists and archeologists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $78,250
Engineering services $63,710
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $57,610
Research and development in the social sciences and humanities $56,290

Many anthropologists and archeologists work full time during regular business hours. When doing fieldwork, however, anthropologists and archeologists may be required to travel and to work many and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook for Anthropologists and Archeologists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of anthropologists and archeologists is projected to grow 10 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations..

Corporations will continue to use anthropological research to gain a better understanding of consumer demand within specific cultures or social groups. Anthropologists also will be needed to analyze markets, allowing businesses to serve their clients better or to target new customers or demographic groups.

Archeologists will be needed to monitor construction projects, ensuring that builders comply with federal regulations pertaining to the preservation and handling of archeological and historical artifacts.

Because anthropological and archeological research may be dependent on research funding, federal budgetary decisions can affect the rate of employment growth in research.

Job Prospects for Anthropologists and Archeologists

Overall, prospective anthropologists and archeologists will likely face strong competition for jobs because of the small number of positions relative to applicants. Job prospects will be best for candidates with a Ph.D. or an applied master's degree, extensive anthropological or archeological fieldwork experience, and experience in quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Employment projections data for Anthropologists and Archeologists, 2018-28
Occupational Title Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28
Percent Numeric
Anthropologists and archeologists 6,500 7,100 10 600


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: