Summary

anthropologists and archeologists image
Anthropologists and archeologists often do fieldwork.
Quick Facts: Anthropologists and Archeologists
2016 Median Pay $63,190 per year
$30.38 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 7,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 3% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 300

What Anthropologists and Archeologists Do

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.

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 an Anthropologist or Archeologist

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.

Pay

The median annual wage for anthropologists and archeologists was $63,190 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of anthropologists and archeologists is projected to grow 3 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower 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.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for anthropologists and archeologists.

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about anthropologists and archeologists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Anthropologists and Archeologists Do About this section

Anthropologists and archeologists
Some anthropologists and archeologists excavate artifacts.

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

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 About this section

Anthropologists and archeologists
Anthropologists often travel to and live with the people they are studying.

Anthropologists and archeologists held about 7,600 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of anthropologists and archeologists were as follows:

Research and development in the social sciences and humanities 24%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 21
Federal government, excluding postal service 19
Self-employed workers 11
Engineering services 6

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.

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

Anthropologists and archeologists
Students assist in the surveying of proposed building sites for artifacts.

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.

Education

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

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

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.

Pay About this section

Anthropologists and Archeologists

Median annual wages, May 2016

Social scientists and related workers

$75,280

Anthropologists and archeologists

$63,190

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for anthropologists and archeologists was $63,190 in May 2016. 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 $36,910, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,590.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for anthropologists and archeologists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $75,040
Engineering services 61,780
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 61,080
Research and development in the social sciences and humanities 57,640

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 About this section

Anthropologists and Archeologists

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Social scientists and related workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Anthropologists and archeologists

3%

 

Employment of anthropologists and archeologists is projected to grow 3 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. A projected decline in research and development in the social sciences and humanities is expected to limit the employment growth of these workers.

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

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, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Anthropologists and archeologists

19-3091 7,600 7,900 3 300 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of anthropologists and archeologists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Curators and museum technicians

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers

Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items, and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits.

See How to Become One $47,230
Economists

Economists

Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues.

Master's degree $101,050
Geographers

Geographers

Geographers study the Earth and the distribution of its land, features, and inhabitants. They also examine political or cultural structures and study the physical and human geographic characteristics of regions ranging in scale from local to global.

Bachelor's degree $74,260
Historians

Historians

Historians research, analyze, interpret, and write about the past by studying historical documents and sources.

Master's degree $55,110
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

See How to Become One $75,430
Psychologists

Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors.

See How to Become One $75,230
Sociologists

Sociologists

Sociologists study society and social behavior by examining the groups, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that develop when people interact and work together.

Master's degree $79,750
Survey researchers

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data. Surveys are used to collect factual data, such as employment and salary information, or to ask questions in order to understand people’s opinions, preferences, beliefs, or desires.

Master's degree $54,470
Environmental scientists and specialists

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Bachelor's degree $68,910

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about careers in anthropology and archeology, visit

American Anthropological Association

For more information about careers in archeology, visit

Archaeological Institute of America

Society for American Archaeology

For more information about physical anthropologists, visit

American Association of Physical Anthropologists

To find job openings for anthropologists and archeologists in the federal government, visit

USAJOBS

O*NET

Anthropologists

Anthropologists and Archeologists

Archeologists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Anthropologists and Archeologists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm (visited November 24, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.