Anthropologists study the origin, development and behavior of humans in both the past and present. Archaeologists do similar work, recovering artifacts of ancient humans to determine their lifestyles and customs. Biological or forensic anthropologists analyze human remains and DNA to help solve crimes, while linguistic anthropologists study how different cultures communicate. If you want to be an anthropologist, you will need to earn at least a master's degree in anthropology. In return, you can expect to earn hourly wages that are higher than most occupations.
Anthropologists earned average hourly wages of $28.95 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That equals an annual salary of $60,230. The top 10 percent of earners made over $43.82 per hour, while the bottom 10 percent earned $16.02 an hour or less. To become an anthropologist, you need a minimum of a master's degree in anthropology. You need a Ph.D. in anthropology if you are employed in research, teach at a university or work overseas. Those who work in foreign countries usually need to comply with requirements of foreign governments, which often require Ph.D. degrees. To earn a Ph.D. degree in anthropology, you must complete 12 to 30 months of field research to write your dissertation. Other key qualifications for this field include analytical, investigative, critical thinking and writing skills.
The BLS reports that in 2012, anthropologists and archaeologists working for the federal executive branch of the government earned the highest hourly wages of any industry, at an average of $35.60 an hour. They also earn relatively high wages at museums and historical sites, at $30.37 an hour on average; and at local government agencies, at $29.98. The scientific research and development services industry employed the most anthropologists and archaeologists and paid an average of $26.87 an hour. Those who serve as instructors at a college or university average $24.26 an hour.
Anthropologists' wages also varied considerably by location in 2012. Among the states and District of Columbia, they earned the highest average wages of $43.84 per hour in D.C., based on BLS data. Those in Massachusetts and Hawaii earned the second and third highest wages of $36.18 and $35.14, respectively. Anthropologists would be closer to the industry average in California at $29.80 per hour. In Texas the average is $27.57 an hour.
The BLS projects a 21 percent increase in the number of anthropologist and archaeologist jobs between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the 14 percent rate for all occupations. A growing demand for anthropologists to research human life, history and various cultures should keep job growth strong in this field. Corporations will also rely on anthropologists to better understand the increasingly diverse workforce and characteristics of people in major markets.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Anthropologists and Archeologists Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistic: Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
- American Anthropology Association: Career Paths and Education
- University of California, San Diego: A Career in Biological Anthropology
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, Anthropologists and Archeologists
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