Undergraduate Majors & Anthropology Jobs
A message from a high school graduate who desperately wants to be an anthropology major. But worries about the anthropology major jobs and anthropology jobs after graduation:
I’ve recently graduated high school and I know for a fact what I want to study in college is anthropology. I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures, origins, languages, ways of thinking in different societies. However, my only problem is that when people ask me what I’m going to do with my degree, I don’t even know myself. I’ve spent countless nights worrying over this and searching for careers.
While I am aware that anthropology is a major that you can either do “everything and nothing” with, I’m struggling to find careers that actually involve anthropology. For example, I know of people who major in anthropology and go on to medical school, law school, or other graduate programs. In the end though, these people do not actually end up with a career that largely deals with anthropology, but an entirely different field. So my question is, realistically (outside of academia and archaeology) are there any careers for a desperate young adult that are largely anthropology focused?
I get this question because one of the most popular posts ever on this blog is the 2012 Anthropology Major: Worst Major for Corporate Tool, Best Major to Change Your Life. I hope it’s popular because the post succinctly reacted to the “anthropology is the worst major” rhetoric. It staked out an optimistic position based on a vision of What is Anthropology? The post also outlined some of anthropology’s practical applications. Indeed, anthropology is preparation for “anything.” Finally, the post was realistic about anthropology’s internal issues as well as prospects in a world marked by extreme inequalities.
Nevertheless, the reader question remains pertinent. The American Anthropological Association has a valuable page on anthropology jobs, What You Can Do With a Degree in Anthropology. Some of the specific anthropology major jobs listed at the bottom of that page involve quite a lot of anthropological skills. And there’s the book by Veronica Strang, What Anthropologists Do (2009).
Please share advice for anthropology major jobs!
Updates on Anthropology Major Jobs
See the Disqus comment stream below for some ideas about anthropology jobs. Also note the blog-posts and resources:
- March 2019, see Should you major in Cultural Anthropology? at Anthropology As… and this great Twitter thread begun by Angela Jenks.
- May 2018, anthropologist David Graeber shares a warning: Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.
- In April 2018, Andi Simon argues that The Time is Right for Businesses to Hire Anthropologists: “We don’t have too many anthropologists. We just have to teach them to be relevant in a world that needs them.”
- March 2018, a YouTube Presentation by Kathleen Fuller on Anthropology Careers.
- Also in March 2018, fascinating article about How anthropology can heal the anxiety of our broken relationship with money and ReD Associates: “The Danish firm is, on the surface, a consultancy, but at its core it believes it’s much more than that: a group of creative problem solvers who use anthropology and the social sciences to help companies truly understand their customers on a human level. (And, ultimately, design more relevant products for them.)
- What can you do with an anthropology degree? is a great February 2018 summary.
- Great article February 2018 Advice for an Anthropologist Breaking into Business by Shelly Habecker in the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community.
- In October 2017, see The power of your story… at [Per]Suit of Anthropology: “I share my story here as a way of pivoting this blog–I hope to add to the information out there for anthropologists, who are looking for new opportunities to use their anthropological skills for organizations of every kind.” So we’ll be keeping an eye on how this develops.
- In the September 2017 What you can REALLY do with an anthropology degree, some great advice:
The bad news is that anthropology does not live to a life of adventure and excitement. In fact, most majors don’t. The world today is not a good place, and the prospects of well-paid, rewarding employment are not that great for most Americans. We owe it to our students to be honest with them about this fact, rather than subtly suggesting to them that declaring a major will somehow teleport them to an alternate economy of Endless Fulfillment. And if, on being told their future will be uncertain no matter what they chose, they get curious and start thinking about social stratification, politics, income and education, then… they might really be anthropology majors after all.
- Business Anthropology got a new website and boost in August 2017. This website is in preparation for an initiative on “Business Anthropology Matters!” at the 2017 American Anthropological Association meetings.
- In June 2017 Anthropology News launched a Putting Anthropology to Work series. Although the series is mostly about applying anthropology, definitely provides good ideas for anthropology major jobs.
- The National Association of Practicing Anthropologists features a weekly posting of professional jobs open to anthropologists. Most of these jobs are for anthropologists with advanced degrees. But some of them will be open to undergraduate majors. And the jobs can also be a source of good ideas for applying anthropology.
- Great resources page on anthropology major jobs put out by anthro everywhere! See the May 2017 Undergrad & MAs career paths. In June 2017 see their related post on The Packaging of Anthropological Knowledge and Its Merits According to Market Research Experts. And in July 2017, see Anthropologists everywhere! Alternative Anthro Careers featuring anthropology at Reddit.
- Especially good for Spanish speakers, see the Profesionalizacion category at Antropologia 2.0. También para hispanohablantes, ver los temas interesantes de La antropología en busca del encuentro laboral y ¿A qué me voy a dedicar cuando sea Antropóloga?
- From the Anthsisters a series on Anthropology… what kind of job will you get with that? highlighting anthropology jobs.
- On aidnography, Who do anthropologists think they are?
To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2015. “Anthropology Major Jobs: Undergraduate Majors and Anthropology Jobs.” Living Anthropologically website, first posted 1 July 2015. Revised 31 May 2019.