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What does an anthropologist do?

Have you ever wondered, what is anthropology? Anthropologists are driven by an interest in humans – from our origins as a species, to our modern cultures, to how humanity will survive in the future. Anthropology focuses on studying the development and behaviour of humans by taking a holistic look at everything that impacts the human experience including physical, social, cultural, economic, and political factors. It may surprise you to learn that anthropologists work in a wide range of places, including public service organisations, cultural heritage consultancy, universities, and community planning organisations to name a few.

Is a career as an anthropologist right for me?

If you’re fascinated by the history of human societies and cultures this could be the career for you. Anthropologists are critical thinkers with an interest in mathematics, science and language. It’s also beneficial to possess:

  • an enthusiasm for research
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • a sensitivity towards other people and cultures
  • a capacity for detailed observation and accurate practical work
  • the ability to work independently.

How to become an anthropologist

Every journey to study is individual and there are several paths to reaching your anthropology career goals. At UniSQ, we offer the following degrees in the area of anthropology:
Average salary per week
Future demand
Very Strong
Related careers

© Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated May 2024.

Two people in lab coats, one taking notes and the other using a camera to take photos of samples.
How much do anthropologists get paid?
An anthropologist’s average salary varies based on factors such as location, experience, and workplace setting, Refer to the salary information on this page for further details.
What jobs do anthropologists do daily?

Some of the jobs anthropologists do include:

  • conducting fieldwork to collect data and interact with study populations
  • analysing cultural, linguistic, archaeological, and biological data
  • assembling historical data by consulting sources such as historical indexes and catalogues, archives, court records, diaries, newspaper files, and other materials
  • organising, authenticating, evaluating, and interpreting historical, political, sociological, anthropological, and linguistic data
  • undertaking historical and cultural research into human activity and preparing and presenting research findings.
Are anthropologists in demand?
Demand for anthropologists varies by specialisation and geography, but there is typically very strong demand in sectors such as education and training, scientific and technical services, and public administration and safety. The unique insights anthropologists provide into human behaviour and social structures can be invaluable in addressing global challenges.
Where do anthropologists work?

Anthropologists work in a variety of settings, including:

  • universities where they teach and conduct research
  • museums and historical sites, where they manage collections and provide educational materials
  • government and non-governmental organisations, where they advise on or manage policies and programs
  • private sector firms, including consultancies and market research companies, where they apply anthropological methods to understand consumer behaviour and cultural trends
  • international agencies, where they contribute to development projects and humanitarian efforts. 
How long does it take to become an anthropologist?

An anthropologist’s career has a multitude of different study pathways. It’s common to pursue an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a related field. At UniSQ, we offer a range of degrees in this area and have multiple pathways to help you get into anthropology. Typically, a bachelor degree takes three years to complete, however if you choose to study part-time, this can increase your study time. 

Additionally, gaining practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or research projects may also factor into the overall timeline for becoming an anthropologist. 

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