Anthropologist Job Description
An anthropologist is a social scientist with an expert knowledge of anthropology – the study of humankind. Anthropologists study our past and present to understand and explain who we are, how we evolved, and what our future might be like.
An anthropologist should be patient, enthusiastic, enquiring, observant, determined and methodical, and have the ability to think critically and solve problems. They should be able to communicate effectively and work well with others in a team.
Famous anthropologists include Herodotus (ancient anthropologist), Tacitus (ancient anthropologist), Margaret Mead (cultural anthropologist), Alfred Russel Wallace (natural explorer), Al-Biruni (Persian Muslim scholar), Leslie Alvin White (neoevolutionism), Bronisław Piotr Piłsudski (Ainu ethnic group), and Nancy Scheper-Hughes (International activist).
Pursue a career in anthropology if you have an enquiring mind and interest in human culture and development.
What does an Anthropologist do?
Anthropologists may do some or all of the following:
- study and analyze government or corporate policies to help reform them
- conduct surveys and analyze data to develop better social policies
- study the development of human culture
- study the material remains of ancient people
- study the development of several languages
- write research articles and reports
- teach at academic institutions
Where does an Anthropologist work?
Anthropologists work indoors in offices and outdoors in the field. Those who work in offices usually work normal office hours, while those who do fieldworks may work long hours including weekends and evenings depending on the tasks at hand. They may travel for fieldworks or to attend conferences, and stay away from home for a period of time.
What is Required to Become an Anthropologist?
To become an anthropologist, you will need a master’s or doctoral degree in anthropology or a similar discipline.
Secondary school students interested in studying anthropology should take classes such as Statistics, geography, English, art history, physics and chemistry, as anthropology crosses the boundary between art and science.
Just to give you an idea, some of the classes that you’ll be taking in college may include:
- Language and Culture
- History of Anthropological Theory
- Origins of Civilization
- Human Osteology
- Methods and techniques of Archaeology
- Research Methods in Anthropology
- Primate Behavior and Ecology
- Culture and Environment
- Death, Burial, and Culture
- Contemporary Anthropological Theory
An anthropologist may specialize to become any of the following:
- Linguistic anthropologist - an anthropologist who studies languages
- Cultural anthropologist - an anthropologist who studies human cultures
- Physical anthropologist - an anthropologist who studies the physical differences between peoples
- Archeological anthropologist - an anthropologist who studies ancient human societies through their physical remains and environment
- Forensic anthropologist - an anthropologist who studies the skeletal human remains of a person to identify the key characteristics of the deceased person
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Anthropologists need to have:
- creativity and imagination
- self motivation
- discipline and integrity
- manual dexterity
- physical strength and stamina
- good eyesight
- good attention to detail
- good interpersonal skills
- good listening and communication skills
- good judgment and decision making skills
- analytical and problem solving skills
- time management and organizational skills
- computer skills
- leadership skills
- research skills
- the ability to cope with stress, both physical and emotional
- the ability to tolerate people who think differently from them
- the ability to work well independently and in a team
- the ability to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with developments in the field
- the ability to develop skills in understanding different languages
- knowledge of scientific rules and methods
- knowledge of statistics
- knowledge of geology and geography
- knowledge of ethnography
- knowledge of surveying
- knowledge of human physiology
Should I be an Anthropologist?
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