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Careers in Anthropology

Because most high schools do not teach anthropology courses, a normal question to be asked is “What can I do with that degree?”  For people interested in studying any aspect of humanity, the answer would be: Just about anything you want.

Excavations at the Boone Home Campus in 2011Anthropology is the study of everything it means to be human.  If you were to compare the diversity of fields of study in college, this would rank right behind biology (the study of life).  Anthropologists study everything that people do and why they have done it.  They also study the evolution of humans, the interaction of human with their environments (both currently and over time), and how past humans lived and dealt with problems of the past (that are often strikingly similar to current day problems).  Did you know that anthropological studies lead to standardized clothes sizes, or the size and shape of seats in airplanes, cars, and your living room? Or did you know that anthropologists have helped solve complex problems dealing with worker interaction in factories, or that anthropologists could have told you decades ago that the Mayan calendar did not predict the end of the world on December 21, 2012?  The list of what anthropologists do is as long as the list of human activity over time.  We are not sure we want to compile that list, but rest assured that it is nearly endless.

Harvesting rice in Sambas, IndonesiaAnthropologists are employed in a wide variety of sectors, including colleges and universities, local, state, regional, and federal government agencies, private businesses, Nongovernmental organizations, and health and human services. You will find people with anthropology degrees teaching at universities in departments outside of anthropology, such as architecture/design, biology, business, education, history, international studies, medicine, and public health, among many others.  More than half of all anthropologists work outside of academia. They perform job functions that include things such as research partnerships, assessment of economic issues, public policy, educational programs, community histories, and just about any type of human services. Anthropologists address social and physical consequences of natural disasters, equitable access to limited resources, and human rights.

Anthropologists can and have changed the way we view and interact with our world.  Regardless of what subfield you choose in anthropology, you will have that chance too. 

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