Archaeologist/Anthropologist

These two related careers are some of the smallest science jobs in terms of number of positions. They study our past, how humans interacted with each other and their environments, and how we developed to our present state.

Archaeologists research the physical remains of past civilizations. They examine and preserve artifacts, such as pots, cave paintings, and building ruins, and learn what they can about past cultures from these items. Most work for cultural resource management (CRM) firms that are often contracted to federal government agencies, such as the National Park Service. Anthropologists study the language, physical characteristics, and development of people around the world and for centuries past. They may research current societies, including isolated cultures to urban settings.

The best degree for people wanting a position in these fields is the PhD. Those with master’s degrees can also find positions, but they are harder to find for those with bachelor’s degrees.

Archaeologists and anthropologists both spend large amounts of time in remote areas studying the ruins of ancient civilizations. They may live among the people of the region to learn about their culture and society or work on archaeological digs. The rest of their time is spent in offices or classrooms and working on publications of their research.

About 5,800 people were employed as archaeologists and anthropologists in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From 2008 to 2018, the growth rate of jobs in archaeology and anthropology is expected to be 28 percent, much faster than the average for all professions. This high demand will be pushed by growth in management, scientific, and technical consulting firms. Also, the growth of the federal government will increase the need for anthropologists to evaluate cultures around the world and for archaeologists to protect resources that are discovered during large construction projects.

Archaeologists and anthropologists received annual median salaries of $53, 910 in 2009. Archaeologists hired by the federal government made an average of $70,606, while anthropologists were paid $88,302.

Last Updated: 06/04/2014

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